Lobbying 101

MPs are normally VERY nice to meet with. They consider it their duty to meet with constituents and many are willing to meet with NGO people on issues. The risk is not that an MP will be nasty, but will be too chatty and engaging (on subjects other than climate change).

Team leader. Each group needs a designated team leader, normally someone with lobbying experience. That person organizes the meeting and introduces the members on arrival at the constituency office. Someone should be designated to take notes. (We do not tape meetings, so if anyone wanted to, make sure the MP is agreeable to this.) The constituency assistant will likely sit in on the meeting. Take a picture with the MP before you leave; sometimes the MP asks for a picture.

Plan ahead. Each group should confer before seeing the MP, even half an hour before the meeting, to agree on who will raise what points.

Bring some background information. The group should bring a piece of paper with the names of the participants, and some talking points. A brochure of JustEarth (or whatever your organization) can be handy to explain who the sponsoring group is (if appropriate, mention other groups of the delegates).

Timing. MPs usually allow a half hour, or 45 minutes for a meeting. Keep track of the time. Make sure that you have raised key points before it is time to leave. Some MPs are happy to prolong the meeting - an hour is not unusual (so, don’t be pressed to get elsewhere, just in case).

Be Positive. Points raised should include, normally lead with, something positive that the government has done. We will also raise challenging points and negatives (pipelines). We cannot expect Liberal MPs to agree with us, publicly at least, on matters the government has decided otherwise (authorizing pipelines), but we can say we want them to know that many Canadians, certainly environmentalists want strong action.

Acknowledge that the climate crises is tough to deal with!

The flow of the meeting. The group should focus on the main issues, but be open to the direction going elsewhere (so long as on climate change!). The MP may have some particular knowledge or have done something on it, or have particular concerns that need answering.

What if you do not know the answer? If you cannot give a reasonable answer on the spot, undertake to get back to the MP. We will assist!

Propose a town hall on climate change. Given that the issues are not well known, we encourage MPs to hold a town hall on the subject.

Thank yous. Thank the MP and constituency assistant on leaving, and send a thanks later, a paper letter is appreciated!, or email, at least. Be sure to include the constituency assistant, assuming he/she was helpful (usually they are).

Report. Write up and circulate a brief report on your meeting (JustEarth will post them)..