Arranging a meeting – To schedule a meeting with an elected official at the municipal, provincial or federal level, call his or her office and ask to speak with the official’s scheduler, or send an email to the official’s office that includes:
- Your name and contact information (including your postal code).
- A description of the matter you are concerned with.
- A description of what you would like to discuss in your meeting with the official.
- The timeline you are working within (if there is one).
Keep your message as polite, concise and professional as possible. If you haven’t heard back from the official’s office within three days, send a follow-up note containing the same information.
Preparing for your meeting – Before your meeting, prepare a briefing package for the official containing the following materials:
- A one page summary of the issue(s) you are concerned about.
- Evidence (documents, photos, and statistical data) to support any claims you will make during your meeting.
- A business card with your contact information on it, so that the official can follow-up with you after the meeting.
Send this package at least one day in advance of the meeting to give the official a chance to review it. Bring copies to the meeting in order to guide the discussion and add structure to your meeting. This will make the meeting more efficient and will help you get key points across.
Attending the meeting – Approach your meeting with a high degree of professionalism. Arrive on time and dress appropriately. The dress code in constituency offices for provincial or federal officials is business casual. If you are attending a meeting at city hall, or at a provincial legislature or on Parliament Hill, the dress code is more formal.
Upon meeting the official, you should address them with the appropriate salutation. In conversation, Cabinet ministers, provincial or federal, should be addressed “Minister (last name)”; MPs and MLAs/MPPs should be addressed “Mr/Mrs./Miss (last name)”; city aldermen or councillors should be addressed “Alderman/Councilor (last name)”.
State your objectives at the beginning of the meeting, then provide context and rationale in a solution-oriented manner. Be sure to tell the official how government can benefit from engaging in the issue, and highlight the benefits that your goal(s) would deliver. Before concluding your meeting, be sure to reiterate what aspects you would like to see the official engage in, and tell him or her that you will follow up with them.
Following up – Within 48 hours, follow up to thank the official for taking the time to meet with you and attach any materials you may have referenced during your meeting. You may also wish to send a hand-written thank-you note that also reiterates that he or she should consider engaging in the topic of your concern.