Choosing Tactics

Figuring out what to do about a particular issue can be the most challenging—and important—part of a campaign. The most effective advocacy strategy uses a diversity of methods—or tactics. The tactics you choose will depend on the issue and the political context.  The following chart will help you decide your tactics for action.

Action

Why choose this action?

Potential Outcomes

Calling Your MP The issue is familiar enough to the legislator, and to you, that you can get your point across in a five-minute conversation. Making a direct connection with your MP.

Having an impact while using little time and resources.

Meeting with Your MP Effective even if the issue is not well known to the legislator and even if you do not have a large support network.

If you have a petition to present to the legislator, it is a good idea to schedule a meeting in which to present it.

A very effective method to get your message across to the MP.

You may learn more about the MP’s position and how the MP can help you in your cause.

Writing a Letter to Your MP You would like to clearly communicate to your MP the issue and what you would like to have done about it. A well-written and thoughtful letter can bring the issue to the MP’s attention.

He will know that you have spent the time to research the issue and contact him.

Letter-Writing Campaign You have a good-sized
support network.
If the MP receives a large volume of letters, she will know that there are many people concerned about
this issue.
Writing a letter to a Cabinet Minister You desire to see change in government policy (rather than in legislation). Gives you access to the head of the relevant department, as well as access to the Cabinet.
Meeting with
Civil Servants
Legislation is passed, but it needs to be implemented by a government department.

You desire change a government regulation or program.

Gives you access to those influencing and
implementing legislation.
Writing a One-Page Brief You anticipate contact with decision makers, media, and the public, and would like to send a consistent, accessible message. Provides your campaign with consistency and clarity.

Gives others a quick way to find out about your campaign.

Preparing and Submitting a Petition The issue is straightforward (essentially a yes/no question) and has widespread support. Demonstrates public concern for
the issue.Can be read in the House by your MP and can influence Parliamentary debate.
Organizing a Public Meeting The issue affects many people but is also largely unknown.

You would like to have a community discussion, or facilitate a debate between two officials.

Builds public awareness
and support.Makes elected officials and policy-makers take note.
Organizing a Demonstration There is need for widespread exposure to the issue. Draws attention to the issue and gains public support.  A quick way of demonstrating popular support for the cause to politicians.
Working with the Media You would like to bring attention to a relatively unknown issue.

You would like to comment (positively or negatively) on a newspaper article.

You would like to make a public statement about what the government is, or is not, doing about an issue.

Raise public awareness on the issue.

May impact the way the local media handles an issue.

Can catch the attention of your MP, especially if you challenge him directly in your piece.

You can also write a piece in support of your MP’s position, which will encourage him to continue what he is doing.

Using Social Media You would like to educate your network about this concern/issue.

You would like to mobilize supporters of the issue.

You can organize, communicate, and mobilize more efficiently
and effectively.
Keep in Mind: Awareness. If you are knowledgeable about specific issues (poverty, climate change, refugees, etc.), you could consider improving public awareness as your tactic. This could mean leading a small group study  in your church or university. Awareness is the foundation for effective action.

Charities and Advocacy

Charitable organizations should consider government regulations on advocacy before developing a strategy. According to Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) Guidelines for Charities, a charitable organization cannot devote more than 10% of its total resources per year to political activities. Charities can participate in political activity if they are non-partisan (not  supporting one political party over another) and connected to the charity’s purpose.

What Does CRA Consider “Political Activity”

  1. Explicitly encouraging the public to urge elected representatives to retain or change any law, policy, or any other Canadian government or foreign country government decisions.
  2. Explicitly including in materials that the intention of the activity is to put pressure on elected representatives to change, retain, or oppose government of Canada or foreign government decisions.
Go Deeper Go Deeper: Canada Revenue Agency. For more information about regulations for charities doing advocacy work, visit CRA’s webpage on “Political Activities.”
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