So, you want to have your views heard by your Member of Provincial Parliament.
Congratulations! You are already in a great position, as not many people are willing to take the time to write a personal letter. Your views will be heard – simply because you made the effort.
Here are some key tips for writing a successful letter:
1. A hand-written letter is a winner
With all the emails, tweets, information and opinions flying about, the receipt of a thoughtful (email or snail-mail) letter in your own words stands out. It demands attention – and nearly always gets a response. Your MPP and their staff will want to respond in-kind which means they will be inclined to write a thoughtful response. See? They are now thinking about your views.
2. Keep it simple
Focus on one key message, avoid a “top 10 list” of issues (you can always write another letter about a separate issue). Make your key message fit into a (short) sentence – and underline it to make it jump out.
3. Your MPP is human, after all
Start your letter with a positive statement and/or compliment, and use that to make a personal connection. For example, “I was at the XYZ event with my daughter and we really liked your speech about…” or, “I saw your interview on TVO and it really made me think about the impact of…” You get the idea – it sets a positive caring tone, and makes a personal link to you.
4. Acknowledge their Challenges
Before diving into the specifics, take a moment to recognize that there will be many stakeholders and diverse sides to almost every topic. Your MPP is certainly very aware of them – and may have already had in-depth briefings from others before you. You are simply acknowledging the MPP is likely hounded from all sides – and you are sympathetic to their situation. For example, “I realize that the XYZ topic is very complex and I appreciate that you are taking the time to solicit public inputs…”
5. Now it’s time to get specific about your message
You are bringing your constructive, thoughtful point of view to the table. You are NOT debating or refuting other points of view. You are making YOUR statement very clear. For example, “I really want Ontario to transition to 100% Renewable Energy by 2050. It’s so important that our Long Term Energy Plan take serious consideration of measures and policies to help make that possible.” And the more it speaks from your personal perspective the better. For example, “I took the opportunity to join my local renewable energy co-op both because I believe we need to make this transition and because it is a way to invest in my community.”
6. Offer to Help
The best way to close out a letter is with an offer to help. It shows commitment and leaves the door open to continuing dialogue. And it gets you into their database.
7. Take it to the Next Level
If your letter topic is tied to a current event, consider copying your local newspaper. If you’re feeling extra keen, ask to meet your MPP on a constituency day. Face to face is very powerful (and a nice break for them from dealing with the usual red tape issues). Your MPP should be willing to take the time to meet.
Keep your letter short, have fun writing it, and address it to your MPP’s Constituency Office.