Tactic 101s | Meeting with Your Representative (Canada)
Your political representatives are elected to represent you and have a duty to listen to the causes of concern to you.
When looking to make a difference, consider which decision makers may be best equipped to move the needle. Here’s a handy guide to understand the distribution of municipal, provincial and federal responsibilities and powers.
Before you try to get a meeting, make sure you are being intentional about who you are reaching out to.
Start by identifying which level of government is relevant to the issue you are focusing on, and then look up your specific representative based on your postal code.
Depending on the nature of your issue, you may also want to engage the federal or provincial ministry or municipal department that is relevant to your cause.
From there, make a list of the key stakeholders that you wish to engage. Don’t forget about opposition critics as you build your list.
Once you have made your list, you can draft a sample email message to look to schedule a meeting. Your email should include an overview of the issue, why it matters and a specific call to action. You can also support your advocacy efforts through a mass email campaign, call campaign, and by reaching out on social media (e.g., Twitter, Instagram) to engage your representative in a public forum.
You can find your representatives’ contact information on the House of Commons website, the provincial/territorial legislature website or the city’s website.
Don’t hesitate to follow up regularly with emails and phone calls. Be sure to be courteous in communications with representative and their teams.
When a meeting is confirmed (yay!) – take the time to get prepared to ensure the conversation is a productive one.
Do your homework on the stakeholders your meeting with
Come prepared with the facts and the most pertinent information for the stakeholder to remember
Be clear about your call to action and what success looks like
Consider bringing supporting documents for further reading and context on the issue
Brainstorm and prepare for potential questions from the stakeholders
If helpful, roleplay the meeting with friends and family in advance to get comfortable with the setting
In the meeting:
Be courteous and polite
Share a concise overview of the issue, why it matters to you and why you believe others should care
Be mindful of time and thank the stakeholder for the meeting towards the end
Send a follow up email thanking them for their time and recapping next steps
Establish a record of meeting minutes for future reference
Share an update with your supporters and a preview of what comes next