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The weather may be cooling down, but things at the legislature are about to heat up. Does your organization have a plan?

Thu 31st Aug 2017
The dog days of summer have unfortunately come and gone and Canadians are either checking out the festivities at the CNE, taking one last trip up to the cottage or fighting off crowds at Staples for school supplies. Some would say the end of summer is one of the most relaxing times of the year while others consider it to be the most stressful.

Both Parliament Hill and Queen’s Park have risen for the summer months meaning that politicians are out of the legislature and in their constituencies. Some politicians will use this time to take a well-deserved vacation while others may find time to knock on doors, attend local events and meet and greet with constituents (and more importantly voters) at a more relaxed pace than when they are sitting in their respective legislatures.

Queen’s Park will resume legislative proceedings Monday September 11th while the federal parliament will resume proceedings the following week – Monday the 18th. Friendly reminder: the Ontario legislature sits four days a week (MPPs are back in their constituencies on Fridays) while federal MPs sit Monday to Friday.

There are many ways to lobby government through their summer break.  Here are some strategies that you can use depending on what resources you have at your disposal:

If you’re a member of an association or organization, hosting an event and inviting your local politicians (the more the better) is a great way to get noticed and educate policy makers as to what it is you are fighting for.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) annual Field Day is an excellent example of how to make a policy realm personally relevant and interesting to both elected officials and political staff. The OFA is Canada’s largest agricultural association, representing the interests of farmers and agri-food workers across the province. This year’s Field Day , hosted at Beverly Greenhouses in Dundas, Ontario, highlighted and focused on the practices involved in modern greenhouses operations.  MPPs and staff from all parties attended, touring the farm and learning from the owners why Ontario is a global leader in not only agriculture but in technological innovation. This year’s event was the 4th Field Day hosted by the OFA and every year politicians from all sides of the aisle, especially from urban and suburban GTHA ridings, have mentioned how much they enjoyed the learning experience.

Once a week at the provincial level and about six times a year federally, MPs/MPPs spend time meeting constituents at the office in their riding. Without a doubt, face-to-face meetings are by far one of the best ways to influence a policy maker and ensure that your concerns are heard.  While the summer is drawing to an end there is still time to engage your local representative locally, providing you reach out right away. Constituency days/weeks often get booked up very quickly. Be sure to call or swing by your local politician’s constituency office to book an appointment for the Member’s constituency day as soon as you can.

Multiple times a year, MPPs will put on a number of events for the constituents in their riding. During the colder winter months, MPPs will usually have a New Years Levy while during the summer months MPPs will usually hold a BBQ or movie night. These events represent great opportunities for citizens to bring their family out for a good time, get involved in their community and communicate their concerns with their local representatives. Politicians will usually have a member of their staff shadow them at the event, so be sure that the staffer took notes of your concern and request that they follow up with you after the event.

Many people believe lobbying is something that is done behind closed doors or in fancy restaurants, but the reality is that many successful advocacy campaigns achieve their objectives by communicating a clear, consistent and collaborative message to politicians both in their own constituencies and in the halls of the legislature.

While the summer is drawing to an end these last few weeks are actually a great time for you or your organization to engage legislators and policy makers before parliamentary sessions resume. Reminding your local MP or MPP of your issue just before they return to their respective caucus may help to prioritize the issue and remind them of the importance of the matter within their riding.

All of us at Grassroots hope you had a great summer! We are looking forward to the fall sessions resuming both at Queens Park and Parliament Hill and working with our clients to make sure their issues are being communicated to the right people at the right level of government.