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Writing a letter to a Politician / Guidelines


Understand your Purpose in writing:


Writing informed and personal letters to Members of Parliament can significantly impact Government policy.


Structuring your letter

Include your return address in the letter.


The first paragraph:

• Include the topic of your letter. For example, “I am writing to express/voice (etc.) my concern/disappointment (provide details)…”

• If you are writing to your own Member of Parliament, state that you reside in their electorate early in the letter.

• Opening: Your pitch should be in your first paragraph, if not your opening sentence.

• Introduce yourself and why you are qualified to speak on this issue.


Choose three important points to focus on:

• Flesh out the most persuasive points likely to gain support for your position.

• Address a new point in each paragraph.

• It is more effective to write three short letters to individual people than to write one long letter.

• Ensure your facts are accurate and credible.

• Acknowledge opposing arguments and evidence.



Personalise the issue:

• Explain how the issue affects you, your family or your community.

• A personalised letter may be more persuasive and have more impact.

Personalise your relationship:

• Indicate if you have ever voted for them, met them, supported their election campaign etc.

• The letter may be more effective if the politician feels closer to you.

Be cautious in relation to their views:

• If unsure of the views of the politician or political party on the issue, research it, ask them or explain why they should support your views.

• Avoid making assumptions about their views and comments which could be construed at critical towards them or their party.


Be courteous:

Do not offend needlessly. We all respond better to courtesy, friendliness and a pleasant approach than to abuse.

• DON’T TYPE IN CAPITAL LETTERS IN THE HOPE OF CONVINCING YOUR READER. It’s not only hard to read – it’s unprofessional.


Call for action:

• Ask them to act on the issue (e.g. “increase funding in the budget for…” or, “publicly commit to…”).



Ask for a reply:

• End the letter with a statement encouraging a reply (e.g. “I look forward to your response on this matter”).

• Write back if you do not receive a suitable response within a reasonable timeframe.

• Last words: Restate your pitch and thank your politician for taking the time to read your letter.


Leave contact information (email address, school name, etc.).

• Sign your letter!


Quick Writing Tips:

• Keep your letter short – definitely not more than a page.

• Use accurate facts, quotes from community members, and statistics – but don’t overuse them. (A few sprinkled in each paragraph is a good amount.)

• Provide a “real-life” example in your neighbourhood to illustrate your reasons.

• Follow Up: Politicians are busy people! If you haven’t heard from your official or one of their representatives in a few weeks, send an email to thank them again for reading your letter.


Say that you hope someone will respond to your query when possible.

 

Contacts Methods

Email and Letter

An effective approach that will greatly increase your chances of receiving a response is to send both an email and a hard copy letter by post. If you are contacting a Minister, this is particularly recommended, and you should also send a copy to the corresponding Shadow Minister, ensuring that you note this in the address portion of your letter. Letting the Minister's office know that their opponent has also received a copy will ensure it gets appropriately prioritised. This also gives you the

opportunity to approach the Shadow's office if you get no response from the Minister's office.



Where to send letters

It is best to send letters to electorate offices rather than Parliament House. Parliament websites hold lists of Members’ contact details for their electorate office and Parliament House.


This is a link to all the current Canadian Federal MPs.


Remember:

It takes repeated effort to change attitudes.

And it is well worth your time.






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