Meet with elected officials

Contacting elected representatives for your area may not be something you are familiar or comfortable with. Maybe you feel that other people are better at doing that than you are, or that it doesn't make a difference because your voice won't be heard.

Their role as decision-makers, though, depends on you. Your input is what gives federal Members of Parliament (MPs) and members of provincial and territorial governments the mandate to act on your behalf, and you may be surprised to know how rarely they hear directly from their constituents about climate concerns. 

Whether you voted for the current holders of those seats or for somebody else, you are their constituents and they work for you!

The moms in this picture were part of the green hearts campaign during Mother's Day 2020, when physical distancing due to COVID-19 turned a planned march on Parliament Hill into an online and mail-in campaign. See more pictures of moms posting green hearts on MP's offices here.

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.

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 meeting. Provincial and federal elected officials hold 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. During COVID-19, physical distancing and other regulations will impact how you can meet; at the same time, elected officials have become more adept at using online means of communication and this opens up new opportunities for virtual face-to-face meetings.

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, like who will say what and who will keep track of the conversation.

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. Check out our resources for a hosting a town hall.


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