Meet with your MP about unfreezing aid
A step by step guide to meeting with your Member of Parliament about the importance of unfreezing aid.
Step 1: Identify your Member of Parliament
Find the MP for your area by typing in your postal code here. Remember, MPs only respond to residents in their own constituency.
Step 2: Call to Schedule a Meeting
- MPs have a responsibility to their constituents, so don’t hesitate to request a face-to-face meeting. This is usually the most effective way to communicate your objectives.
- Note the name of the assistant. Having a good relationship with an MP’s assistant can be instrumental in facilitating a meeting.
- Request a specific time period; 30 minutes is a reasonable request.
- Make sure that you have some information prepared before you call. The MP’s assistant will need to know why you would like to meet, so communicate who you are, your affiliation with Oxfam, and that you want to discuss the Federal Government’s Freeze on Aid.
- Indicate how many people will be present at the meeting, so that the MP and assistant can prepare accordingly.
- Helpful Hints: Be polite, and stay friendly, and use everyday language to explain your request. Be flexible, ask when the MP will be in the office and indicate your availability.
Step 3: Do your Research!
Many MPs now have personal websites in addition to their parliamentary pages. See what information is available through these links. It’s useful to understand some basic information about your MP. For example:
- Where does his/her party stand on the Aid Freeze?
- How did the MP vote on issues related to aid or international development in previous sessions?
- Check out any affiliations the MP has with parliamentary committees, other organizations, and community members. The more you know about the MP, the more successfully you can direct the meeting.
Step 4: Know your Stuff
- Determine who will attend the meeting (ie: other Oxfam volunteers, chapter organizers, community leaders) and coordinate the meeting strategy.
- Understand what the Aid Freeze is, and how it affects people in developing countries. Refer to this Aid Freeze Backgrounder.
- Know what aid does, why it works, and why Canada’s contribution as a donor country is important to you.
- Provide the MP with information; email them this letter beforehand, and bring a hard copy with you to the meeting. It is helpful to have something that the MP can refer to for more information.
- Determine a way to structure the conversation:
- Introduce yourself and your affiliation with Oxfam, and briefly present the issue you want to discuss.
- Identify a goal for the meeting, such as “I want you to understand why it’s important to me, as a Canadian, to meet our commitments in providing aid to developing countries.”
- Remember, your MP is loyal to the party’s platform, so try and anticipate what he or she will say in response to your questions, based on the party’s official position. Be prepared to respond appropriately.
Step 5: The Meeting
- Make sure that you are on time for the meeting; MPs are busy, and arriving late reflects badly on you and cuts into the time you have for your discussion.
- Dress appropriately.
- Take notes!
- It’s ok to bring some notes into the meeting to help you guide your conversation, but make sure you understand the Aid Freeze issue enough to be able to talk freely without referring to your notes.
- Listen. Anticipate that your MP will have reasons for his or her actions, or the actions of the party, and you should be receptive to this information. As a general rule, the MP will talk for 2/3 of the time, you will talk for 1/3 of the time.
- Be prepared with examples of how aid has been effective, and why Canada’s aid budget should be unfrozen.
- Try to keep the conversation on track, use talking points to reference if necessary.
- Be prepared to answer difficult questions; if you aren’t sure of the answer, write it down and promise to get back to the MP with an answer.
- Have an understanding of what the MP can do to help you, and be clear about what actions you would like the MP to take. This may include:
- Raising the issue in caucus
- Raising the issue with the Standing Committee on Finance
- Speaking to the Minister of Finance
- Writing a letter to the Prime Minister
- Supporting the unfreezing of the aid budget
- Record what the MP has agreed to do before you leave.
- Leave an information package for the MP, your contact information, and any information that would help toe MP learn more about the issue (ie: link to Oxfam’s website)
- Remember to thank the MP, and his or her assistant, for taking the time to meet with you.
- Helpful Hints: Be respectful and polite, listen actively, and show an understanding of the MP’s point of view. Don’t ask too much of the MP. Set realistic expectations of what the MP can do.
Step 6: Follow-up
- Record what happened at the meeting as soon as possible after you leave, to ensure you remember as much as possible.
- Let us know! Send an email to Oxfam's Bill Hynd to let him know about the meeting and what took place.
- Write a letter to thank the MP for the meeting, reiterating agreed outcomes.
Thank you so much!