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Advocating for Arabs: Advocating to Elected Officials

 
Advocating to elected officials nation-wide is crucial for ensuring that the Arab position is considered by our policymakers. The power of a targeted message of support for Palestine and other Arab countries from a constituent is immeasurable and there is much we can do to educate our representatives and impact policy:
Lobby Members at Home. There is no substitute for a member of Parliament  hearing from constituents at home. Effective lobbying is an ongoing process of nurturing relationships over time. Contact your representatives to schedule meetings with your members to discuss current developments.
Write Letters. While a face-to-face meeting is most effective, letters are still the most common vehicle of communication with elected officials. Parliamentary  staff monitor the number of letters received in support of or in opposition to an issue. Letters on policy issues should be sent to the member's Ottawa office, with a copy to the local Provincial Office.
- Address only one issue per letter so the letter is directed to a specific person
- Be concise and to the point. State the purpose of the letter up front.
Phone Calls. Calls convey a heightened sense of urgency and are only warranted when legislative action is imminent. MP offices keep a tally of calls to gauge public sentiment in the district. Be prepared to supply your address. Call the Canada Help line 1-800 -OH CANADA,  to get  to your member's office address and phone number.
E-mail. For many, e-mail is the easiest method of communication. Although most offices do receive constituent communication via e-mail, keep in mind that e-mail gets the least attention in Ottawa offices. However if a member has an individual Web sites, it can be useful for researching relevant statements made or action taken on the issue.
Invite Members to Speak. Members of Parliament  welcome opportunities to speak at community meetings or other events. Host forums and voter education/registration initiatives with candidates to educate them about your concerns.
Host a   Briefing. Getting to know the staff in your province and in Ottawa is vital in facilitating ongoing communication with the member of parliament  and impacting policy. Aids  frequently step in to meet with constituents while members are called to vote or attend committee hearings and meetings. Not only are they the member's eyes and ears and help shape how a member votes, but aides often move on to leadership positions themselves. Aides provide a vital link in facilitating ongoing communication with the member of parliament. Take these meetings seriously and communicate your message.
Develop a Key Contact Network. Though elected officials value the opinion of community leaders, nothing compares to an individual constituent who can place a personal call to key public officials to say "thank you" or raise concerns.
Develop Contacts with Local Elected Officials and Candidates. The best relationships with officials are those which began in their early careers in state and local offices. Today's candidate for City Council may be tomorrow's Premier. Although these officials and candidates focus on local issues, they can be important voices in support of Arabs in the community and beyond.
Tips For Successful Lobby Meetings
Advance Preparation
Designate one spokesperson for the delegation.
Learn about what the member has done or said on your issues.
At The Meeting
Be brief. Keep your presentation to a minute or two.
Describe local support the measure has received from other coalition allies.
Get to the point and request a specific action of support.
Leave plenty of time to hear out the member about his/her reactions.
If The Member Disagrees . . .
Disagree without being disagreeable. There are other issues on which to find common ground.
Stay focused. If the member disagrees, he/she may try to divert the conversation onto another topic. Be sure to communicate your concerns clearly.
If The Member Agrees . . .
Thank him/her for support and reiterate why the issue is important to constituents. Most letters, calls and e-mails to their offices are negative ญญ which leaves members with the impression that their positive actions go unnoticed.
Let them know who is available as a resource for the member's work on behalf of our issue.
Keep Lines Of Communication Open . . .
Follow up with a note to the member and their aide to reconfirm any commitments made. Continue to correspond with your member. They will always write back.

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