It may be surprising to hear that our elected officials don't directly hear very much from their constituents about climate concerns. By "directly" we mean actual face-to-face conversations.
In Canada, we each have four levels of elected officials:
- School board members
- City government councilors
- Provincial legislature members
- Federal Parliament members
And, it doesn't matter whether we voted for the current holders of those seats or for somebody else, we are their constituents and they work for us!
Because climate change affects everything, all four levels of elected officials have a role to play. We cover school board here and city hall here, so let's now also talk about provincial and federal officials.
Canada is currently on track to miss our Paris targets, so no matter where you live each province and the federal government needs to do more. We as parents and grandparents can make that case to our provincial and federal elected officials directly. And remember, we don't need to be experts to do this - all we need is to have concern for our kids. Here's how:
1) Ask for a face-to-face meeting. Provincial and federal elected officials do meetings in their constituency all the time, so contact their office and ask for one. Say you are a small delegation (3-5) of parents/grandparents who are constituents and you want to meet to discuss action on climate change.
2) Do some reading and make a plan. You do not need to be an expert on climate policy. Remember that your provincial or federal person probably isn't either! They are just people like you who got elected. But, before your meeting have your team do some reading about what's going on with the province or the federal government on climate change and talk about it together so that you have the basics. Make a plan for the meeting - who says what.
3) Express concern and ask for more. Take turns in your delegation expressing your concern for your kids or grandkids given Canada is not on track to meet its climate targets, and ask for more action. You may have something specific you are asking for, or you may just ask "what more can you do?" and make them answer. If you get into a debate, keep it respectful.
4) Follow up. Write a letter thanking them for the meeting, reiterating your concerns, and asking for more action. Ask for a written reply.
If your provincial or federal elected official refuses to meet with you after trying a few times, you may want to go public with that in order to hold them accountable in a different way, pointing out that they are refusing to meet with their constituents.
There is another tactic to both raise climate change with elected officials and to engage the public - you can ask your elected official to participate in a local climate forum. You can partner with other groups to put on an event with a few speakers, including the elected official, where the public gets to participate and to ask questions and make comments. Some politicians may genuinely welcome this kind of forum, while others may be nervous about it and will need assurances around format, etc.