Writing your Member of Parliament (“MP”) or Member of the Legislative Assembly (“MLA”) can be a meaningful way to participate in the democratic process. MPs and MLAs value letters from their constituents as these letters inform them of the issues and policies that are important to their constituents.
However, in order to be meaningful, letters written to elected representatives must be effective. MPs and MLAs can be overwhelmed with the sheer volume of emails and other pieces of correspondence that they receive. Not all correspondence will be read, and only some will receive responses. Here are some basic guidelines on how to contact your MP or MLA in a way that will increase your chances of getting your correspondence noticed and making a difference.
Send a Letter, not an Email
The first way to make your correspondence stand out is to write a letter. Email is less formal, and may be taken less seriously than the same message send via letter. Type your letter out, and sign it personally. Taking the extra time to mail a letter shows that the subject matter of your letter is important to you.
Be Brief and Clear
Keep your letter to one or two pages. Messages that are long and rambling are not likely to be read. At the same time, messages that are too short may not contain enough information to merit a response.
Only write about one issue at a time. If you have several matters you would like to contact your MP or MLA about, write a separate letter for each matter.
Make sure to emphasize the reason you are writing early in your letter, and to thoroughly check your letter for spelling and grammar. Poor drafting and spelling makes it more likely that your letter will not be taken seriously.
Be Polite and Cordial
Elected representatives are subject to a great deal of verbal and written abuse. During question period in the legislature, during press scrums, in the newspapers and on television, MPs and MLAs face a great deal of criticism, very little of it constructive or even thoughtful. A letter that is overly critical or mean-spirited is not likely to be read. However, a letter that expresses disagreement with a particular policy favoured by a MP or MLA may evoke a response, if thoughtfully written and reasoned.
What to Put in Your Letter
A well written letter should include the following:
- An introduction of why you are writing;
- Explain what your concerns are;
- Describe why you are interested in the matter;
- Explain what you want to see happen;
- Ask for a particular action to be taken;
- Politely request that the MP or MLA reply; and
- Thank the MP or MLA for their time in reading your letter.
Send your Letter to the Proper MP or MLA
Don’t know who your MP or MLA is? Click on the relevant juridiction below to find out who your MP or MLA is and to get their contact information.
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If you are writing about a health issue, you may consider addressing the letter to the Minister of Health as well as your local MP or MLA. Your local representative will be interested in hearing the views of one of their constituents. Furthermore, Ministers are equally interested in hearing the views of the public on their files. However, letters addressed to the Minister of Public Safety about agricultural issues are not likely to receive a response.
How to Address and Send Your Letter
When addressing your letter, be sure to use the right honorific. Address the prime minister as “The Rt. Honourable” and start the letter with “Dear Prime Minister.” Cabinet ministers and premiers should be addressed as “The Honourable” and their letters should begin with “Dear Minister.” MLAs or MPs should be addressed as “Mr. surname MLA” or “Ms. surname MP.”
No stamp is required to send a letter to your MP. However, a stamp is required to mail your MLA.
Follow Up with your MP or MLA
If you receive a response, make sure to follow up with your MP or MLA. If you are polite and engaged, they will know that you have a serious interest in the matter and will be encouraged to address your particular concerns.
These basic tools should help you make your letter writing more effective. Keep in mind that in order to be effective, a written letter must be read. Help make the job of your MP or MLA easier by taking your time and carefully drafting your letter. You will find that taking the time to craft a well-written letter makes the experience that much more enjoyable when you receive a positive response.