Developing Relationships with Members of Parliament

Developing relationships with Members of Parliament is not just an annual Arts Day activity. Here are some tips for engaging your MP year round:

    • Include targeted MPs on your mailing list so they receive your newsletters, promotions and updates. This keeps them up to date on your work and will be helpful in shaping their understanding of the arts activity happening in their ridings.
    • Invite your Member of Parliament to your events – MPs like to attend events in the community where they can meet constituents.
    • If your MP makes an announcement you are pleased with, make sure you let them know. MPs receive a lot of criticism – positive feedback may make them more receptive to your concerns in future.
    • Watch for events hosted by local MPs such as barbeques, picnics, and town halls – these are a good opportunity to say hello. You can often find out about these events through their party’s local riding association.

Meeting with MPs

    • Aim to meet your MP at least once per year at home in your riding. MPs tend to be around their ridings in the summer, in late December, most of January and most Fridays. These are all good times to request a meeting. They also have at least one weeklong break per month – check the Parliamentary Calendar for dates.
    • Make sure to get your meeting request in early – especially if your MP is a Minister. You should also make a follow up call to make sure your request was received by whomever handles scheduling.
    • While it’s easier to get a meeting if you are a constituent, other MPs in the same city might also be happy to meet with you – especially if you approach them as a member of a national arts service organization.

When you book a meeting:

    • Prepare your message in advance. If you are in a group, designate one person to lead you through the meeting and assign specific talking points to each person in your delegation.
    • Do some research on the MP, riding and party.
    • Be on time and make sure to respect the amount of time you are given.
    • Bring an information package to leave with the MP.
    • Use local examples of success stories.
    • Answer questions honestly. If you don’t know the answer to a question, offer to get back to them with the information.
    • Make a direct ask to the MP based on his/her riding, party portfolio and personal interest.
    • Make sure you secure some form of commitment (and ask which staff is responsible to follow up on it).
    • Take notes from the meeting.
    • Plan a condensed version of your presentation in case the meeting time is shortened.
    • Send a thank you letter within a week of the meeting and follow up on the commitments they made.
    • Share your experience with us!

For more advocacy tips and tools read the Canadian Conference of the Arts Advocacy Primer and download Orchestras Canada’s Advocacy Meeting Script.

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