Monday, October 1
Referendum Ontario Info Session
Ralph Thornton Centre, 765 Queen St E (at Broadview)
Tuesday, October 2nd
Laurelwood Village, 605 Laurelwood Drive, Waterloo
Wednesday, October 3
Ottawa Women for MMP Reception
7 Hamilton Ave N,
Thursday, October 4th
Couchiching Round Table
University of Toronto Faculty Club
41 Willcocks Street, Toronto
For more info visit www.couch.ca
Step-by-Step Project Three:
Meeting with Elected Officials and/or your local candidate
Connecting with your elected officials and candidates about the referendum in a face-to-face meeting is a great way to develop a relationship with them and work to influence the stands they take on issues important to you. Below are some helpful tips for before, during, and after a visit.
Requesting the visit
- To find our who your MPP is.
- Make your request in writing and follow up with a call to the appointment secretary or scheduler. Make sure the scheduler knows that you are a constituent. Suggest specific times and dates for your meeting.
- Let the person know what issue and legislation you wish to discuss.
Preparing for the visit
- Decide who will attend the meeting. It can be a group of campaign supporters, you individually, or a coalition of people who represent different groups that have an interest in the issue
- Gather information. Learn about your MPP’s and candidate’s position on electoral reform. Become familiar with the differing views and arguments on the issues to help you answer questions.
- Agree on three main talking points. Keep your message simple and to-the-point. For example, see the attached appendixes for information about the historical record of electing women in Ontario, and the number of female legislators in other countries. (Hint: Canada is way down on the list!)
- Plan your meeting. People can get nervous in a meeting, and time is limited. Be sure that you lay out the agenda for the meeting beforehand, including who will start the conversation and who will make key points. See “Sample Meeting Agenda” for help.
- Decide what you want achieve. What is it you want your elected official to do. Asking your MPP to do something specific will give you a benchmark for success!
- Prepare materials to leave with the elected official or staff. Copies of relevant Equal Voice position papers, the Equal Voice MMP Brochure, and a letter or fact sheet summarizing your concerns are good examples.
During the visit
- Make introductions and be clear who is a constituent in the meeting. Parliamentarians are most responsive to the people who can keep them in office – their constituents – so always attempt to have some constituent representation in any meeting.
- Provide brief, clear statements about the problem and your solution.
- Personalize your comments and provide local context. Make a strong connection between the issue and the local community that the legislator represents. Use of personal stories and local examples help illustrate why your issue is important.
- Support your case with facts. Don’t overwhelm with numbers, charts and data, but do use them judiciously to make your point and legitimize your argument.
- Stick to your talking points! Stay on topic, and back it up with no more than five pages of materials you can leave with your elected official.
- Listen carefully to your MP’s responses. What is the person saying about the issue? What is his or her position? What questions or concerns do they have that might be answered? Pay attention to the direct and indirect statements of support or opposition.
- Ask for their support. If you don’t directly ask your MPP if they support your position, you may never actually find out what they think and what they intend to do. THE ASK MUST BE CLEAR. For example, “Can we count on you to support Mixed Member Proportional?” After you ask, pause. Let them answer and clarify if their response is not yet clear. Once you get an answer, you will know if your MPP supports you, opposes you, or is undecided.
If they support you, thank them, and thank them again. Be a resource to them. If they need additional information or help in any way, offer to make that available.
If they oppose you, stay cordial and friendly. Even if you disagree on this issue, you maybe in agreement on another issue. Keep the door open to working together in the future.
If they are undecided, ask if there is additional information they need on this issue and get it to them in a timely manner. Also think about whose voice it is important for them to hear from on the issue and try to mobilize it on your behalf.
After the visit
- Right after the meeting compare notes with everyone in your group to confirm what the elected official committed to do.
- Each person who took part in the meeting should promptly send a personal thank you letter to your elected official. Remind them of anything they may have agreed to do.
- Follow up in a timely fashion with any requested materials and information.
Writing your MPP:
If you can’t meet with your MPP, the next best thing is to write them a letter. Below are some tips for your letter.
TIPS ON WRITING YOUR MPP:
- Keep your letter short. Make at most two or three points - on a single sheet of paper, if possible.
- Handwritten letters are fine, as long as they are legible. They indicate you're serious about the issue and you're expressing your views, not those of someone else.
- Avoid form letters and letters signed by a group. Such letters are viewed as indicating weaker interest than individual letters. Five letters count much more than one letter signed by five people.
- State your views simply and clearly. Use your own words to state your own beliefs. Do not copy a letter.
- Show the number of voters affected. Illustrate the problem at the grass roots.
- Get the facts and get them straight. Nothing can more quickly divert a debate away from the merits of a case than charges of sloppy research, factual errors.
- Ask that the member reply to your letter.
- Increase the impact of your letter - send copies to other members, ministers, the premier, opposition leaders.
- Be sure to address your member correctly when writing.
- If you do not receive a reply within three weeks, or if the response does not clearly answer your questions, telephone or write again.