ByAugust 14, 2008
Your Member of Parliament is more accessible than you think. If you are passionate about an issue, respectful of the MP’s time, and willing to take the time for a meeting, your MP will likely be willing to meet with you.
A quick phone call to your Member of Parliament’s office can be more effective than writing a letter in some cases. As a constituent, you may be able to speak to your MP directly (rather than speaking with their staff). One phone call can be more effective and memorable for an MP if you show that have some knowledge about the issue, that you respect their time, and that this issue is important to their constituents.
A one-page brief is a useful tool to communicate your message to MPs, the media, and others. The one-page brief summarizes the problem, the background information, and the solutions that you propose. This is a good resource to bring to a meeting with an MP, to give to the media (for instance, if you are holding a media-covered event), or for anyone who is interested in learning about your issue.
Figuring out what to do about a particular issue can be the most challenging—and important—part of a campaign. The most effective advocacy strategy uses a diversity of methods—or tactics. The tactics you choose will depend on the issue and the political context. The following chart will help you decide your tactics for action.
A petition is a good tool for a straightforward issue that has widespread support. There are fifteen minutes set aside daily in the House of Commons for petitions to be read. There is no debate following the reading of the petition, but the government is required to respond to your petition within 45 days. Your petition could spark interest among Members of Parliament or it could influence a debate already occurring in the House of Commons.
A personal letter to your MP (Member of Parliament) can be an effective tool for change. Whether you are writing individually or with a letter-writing campaign, the following guidelines will help you know how to write an effective advocacy letter to an MP.
Building relationships with decision-makers puts you in a good position to advocate for change. By getting to know your representatives—your MP, MPP, MLA, MNA, city councillors or mayor—and building a reputation of credibility, you can open doors for the future. Below are some ways to develop positive relationships with your elected representatives.
Inviting others to participate in your advocacy work is a good way to build morale and increase your influence. You may know others who are already concerned about the same cause, or you may invite others to learn more. You can also contact organizations that are already working on your cause or that may be interested in getting involved. Building relationships with others can facilitate information-sharing, and increasing your network of advocates will strengthen your campaign!