Spending intentional time building a relationship with your elected representative paves the way for meaningful policy discussions on issues that matter to Christians in Canada.
Whether you choose a federal, provincial, or local official, we hope you’ll choose one elected representative to focus on building a relationship with this year! Set yourself a monthly reminder to pursue your relationship-building goal, and follow the steps below. These steps are designed to run for a year, beginning in September when elected officials are generally back in their offices more consistently. But you can start anytime, and adapt the steps as needed!
Choose a representative.
To start off, prayerfully pick one of your local representatives to build a relationship with. Find out who your MP, MLA/MPP, and town councilors are. Do a bit of research to get a good idea of who they are and where they stand on the issues of the day. Choose one of these people to focus on and note their contact information in an easy-to-find spot. If they are on social media, consider following their page(s) so you can easily stay up to date.
Introduce yourself via email.
Introduce yourself at an event.
This month, attend a community event hosted by your representative. They often host meet-and-greets, coffee chats in a local coffee shop, ice skating, or other events that are open to the public. You can usually find out about these events on their website or Facebook page. Find out if you need to register for the event, and do so if necessary. At the event, introduce yourself and thank your representative for their work.
Send a Christmas Card.
Send a Christmas card to your representative. This can be your family Christmas card or a generic one that you personalize with a message. Wish your representative a merry Christmas and a happy new year!
Say ‘hi’ at another event
Attend another community event where your representative is likely to be present. Remember that you can usually find out about these events on their website or Facebook page. Register for the event, if necessary. At the event, say hi again and thank your representative for their work.
Let them know you’re praying for them.
Ask the person to meet with you for coffee or lunch somewhere. Prepare for the meeting by getting talking points from ARPA, and questions you have for the individual. You can contact ARPA for help with this step. Then attend the meeting. Keep it friendly and introductory, just getting to know them.
Watch your representative in action
Watch your representative in action. This could be during a Parliamentary debate, a provincial legislative question period, a local town council meeting, or some other context. See what they say and how they say it. If you have specific comments in connection to what they spoke about, send a short email letting them know.
Book a meeting to discuss an issue
Book a meeting with your representative to discuss something specific. Check out ARPA’s policy reports and one-pagers for ideas! Choose only one issue to focus on and have some clear talking points in mind.
Thank them for the meeting.
Send your representative a follow up call or email thanking them for joining you for the meeting. Include a summary of the conversation that you had and include any extra information or resources on the topics you discussed.
Plan a community event.
Work with friends, family, or church members to arrange a bigger, more social gathering with the official. This could be a BBQ, backyard event, church picnic, etc. Schedule the event for a week when the official is likely to be home in the riding and send them an invite. Find a venue and build commitment from attendees. Confirm the time and place with your representative.
Host the event.
Host the event you planned last month! It’s always a good idea to send out an event reminder to your guests, including your representative, a day or two before the event.
Encourage your representative.
For the final step, email your representative to thank them for attending your event and encourage them as they begin a new season of work. Be sure to personalize your email, mentioning some of your interactions and highlights over the past year.
Keep it going!
You can maintain the relationship you worked to build by sending occasional cards or emails, or by attending a community event from time to time. You can also bring up new policy issues with your representative, or reconnect on the issue you met about in Step 10. If you’ve recently had a local election, or want to try reaching out to a different politician, you can start from the top! If you missed a few steps or you’ve never done the 12-step action plan, now is always a great time to start. Thank you for helping us put relationships first, so that we can have meaningful policy discussions on issues that matter to us as Christians in Canada.