Here are some tips to increase your ability to influence your MP/MLA and get them to treat your issue(s) with greater interest:
- Be Polite, Respectful, and Patient
- This is the most important piece of advice. Even if you strongly disagree with your representative’s views or statements, being rude, aggressive, or disrespectful gives them an easy excuse to justify ignoring you.
- When you are polite, respectful, and patient, you are in control. A good politician knows that it is a bad look if you go to the press or social media and show that they refused to respond to or meet with a courteous and well intentioned individual.
- Always keep the “moral high ground”. Let the MP/MLA be the one that lashes out or acts improperly. If you choose to go to the press or social media, the politician’s poor conduct will only further add pressure to your advocacy.
- Particular things you should remember to do are:
- Speak/write clearly and calmly
- Take turns when speaking
- Agree to disagree if you reach an impasse on an issue
- Be mindful of the MP/MLA’s time, pick 1 or 2 issues to discuss. Schedule another meeting if there are more issues important to you.
- Thank the MP/MLA for their time
2. Communicate in Your Own Words
- Politicians are professional communicators. They are pretty good at detecting when you are being genuine and when you are just repeating talking points some organization gave you. This is especially true with “form letters” (e.g., templates organizations like TBOF draft and encourage supporters to send).
- Your MP/MLA will feel much more pressured to respond meaningfully to you if they feel it is a genuine correspondence or request from a constituent. If they feel like you are just forwarding form letters or looking to convey talking points, they are much more likely to just give you a standard response, effectively ending the conversation and your ability to influence them on an issue.
- Rephrasing talking points or form letters from TBOF or other organizations into your own words will help you secure a response, call, or meeting.
3. Be Vague with your Call/Meeting Request if your Topic is “Controversial”
- Representatives will oftentimes screen potential calls or meetings depending on the proposed topic(s).
- If you know your representative is particularly unsupportive of your issue or otherwise unlikely to welcome an open and honest conversation, you should be more vague with the reason for your call or meeting request.
- Instead of specifically mentioning the issue or including other details, consider generally mentioning the theme. For example, instead of saying you wish to express your concerns against vaccine mandates, you could instead request to discuss the government’s “pandemic measures”.