Talking to your MP
The lead up to an election is not only an opportunity to get the message out to the federal government but is also an opportunity to build on-going relationships with your MP, and candidates from all parties. It’s a chance to remind them that if an election is called, champions for wild salmon and the Wild Salmon Narrows will earn voter support.
Tips for getting a meeting
- Phone your MP’s constituency office and request a meeting. Or write a hand written letter. Say that you want to talk about protection for wild salmon, an issue you and many British Columbians feel passionate about, and how s/he can make a difference. Make it clear that you are a constituent.
- It can take several calls and many weeks to get an appointment – don’t be discouraged and keep a firm but friendly tone. If travel to your MP’s office is not possible for you then a letter followed up by a phone call will count a lot. If you are offered a meeting with an aide instead of the MP, take it. Aides are the gatekeepers in an MP’s office – they prioritize agendas and provide advice. They can also be your best ally in getting a face-to-face MP meeting in the future.
- We’d love to hear if or how your MP responds, so be sure to let Michelle know that you have sent your letter or made your call. You can share your experience with us on the Wild Salmon Narrows Facebook page as well.
Things to keep in mind while preparing for your meeting
- Visit the Closed Containment and Wild Salmon Narrows pages for background information. Practice a short speech (maximum 2 minutes per topic) or make a list of key points that get across the need for protection for wild salmon from open net pens and the recommended solutions and action you want to your MP to take.
- You are building a relationship so learn a little about the MP in advance of the meeting and make some small talk when you meet. If you go with a group, let each member of the group introduce themselves (very briefly).
- If you have more than one person going to the meeting, choose a group leader. The chosen group leader should confirm the time the MP has available at the beginning of the meeting and ensure the group wraps up within that timeframe.
- Do your research – you can strengthen your own personal connection to the MP or identify a pet-cause or connection to your issue by reviewing the MPs website and bio in advance of the meeting.
- Keep a diplomatic and constructive tone; there is nothing to gain by being disrespectful.
- Keep in mind that MPs will almost always default to the party’s position. They may say it’s ‘not up to them’ and the ‘party’ defines policy on issues like this. If they reply in this manner, ask them what the party policy/position is on the issue. If they don’t know, won’t say or the party doesn’t have a position, tell them how essential it is that the party adopt a clear policy and be ready to share it with voters during any upcoming election.
- Conclude each issue discussion by asking, “Can we count on you to call for the funding of closed containment projects and permanently fallow the Wild Salmon Narrows?” At the end of the meeting the leader should restate what the MP has agreed to do, thank the MP, and say he/she will follow up with the MP in 3-4 weeks. Put it in your calendar and make sure you do follow up.
- Make sure to follow up with a handwritten note of thanks to the MP within a day of the meeting.
- Share the intelligence you gather with us by contacting Michelle. Did you get a commitment? Is there follow up information you promised your MP? Did they give you a lead?