Why Meet with Your MPP?
Meeting with MPPs and candidates is one of the most critical advocacy activities available, particularly if your meeting is part of a wider grassroots campaign taking place across the province or during an election campaign.
- MPPs will assume that for every person they meet with, receive a telephone call or a letter from, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of others with the same view who have not taken the time to contact them.
- MPPs often compare notes about constituent meetings and will identify where there is widespread support across the province for specific initiatives and positions.
- If you ask an MPP a question that they don’t have the answer to, they’ll generally ask the central party staff to research and prepare an answer. This makes the wider organization aware of the issue you’re raising.
- Meeting with MPPs gives you a chance to listen to their challenges and concerns, and be able to adapt your messages to take these into consideration.
- In the case of mental health, which impacts so many people, meeting with an MPP face-to-face gives you an opportunity to connect with that person directly and gives them an opportunity to tell you something of their background.
Meeting with MPPs – Step-by-Step
In advance of the meeting:
- Make sure you have a clear purpose for the meeting — MPPs are busy people who will dislike having their time wasted!
- Develop a specific “ask.” Make sure what you are asking for is something that is within the provincial government’s area of responsibility, not the municipal or federal government’s responsibility. (If you’re not sure, call the MPP’s office and ask a staff member.) It’s best if you can be specific about what you want – for example, a specific increase in funding or number of people served. Provide an opportunity for easy success as part of your ask. For example, you might be asking for increased supportive housing units, which the MPP is not able to achieve as an individual politician. So ask them also to participate in a related community event, such as a public meeting or a fundraiser you’re involved in.
- Prepare to discuss how mental health issues directly affect you, your friends and your family. Personal stories make an impact.
- Research the MPP. Find out about their background, their experience or affinity with the mental health sector.
- It’s a good idea to put your request and background information in writing. Bring this briefing document with you to the meeting. It should include one or two relevant statistics, including local information where available personal stories the “ask.”
- It is best to meet with your MPP in the local constituency office. Contact the constituency office to request a meeting. Be clear with the staff about the purpose of the meeting, how much time you would like to request, and who will attend (if you are bringing more than just yourself to the meeting). If the MPP is unavailable, you may wish to meet with the constituency staff member who will convey the information to the MPP.
At the meeting:
- Arrive on time.
- Prepare for some “small talk.”
- Plan to spend 60 percent of your time listening, and only 40 percent talking.
- Focus on discussion, not debate. If appropriate, present the “ask.”
- Engage in active listening to determine the MPP’s views, beliefs, and values.
- Seek advice.
- Jointly determine follow-up actions and next steps.
After the meeting:
- Send written thanks to the MPP and constituency staff. Be sure to offer your expertise or assistance on the issue in the future.
- Amend your “ask” based on what you learned in meeting with the MPP.
- Track and pursue the “ask,” particularly any commitments made during the meeting.