Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Week 8: Express Yourself

Now that you know where your levels of government stand, it’s time to take action. This week, we are going to contact our representatives and express what we want to see from them. I know it can be intimidating to directly address officials. But, if they don’t know what we want, how can we expect them to deliver?

Direct contact by individuals has been shown to have the greatest impact on government decision making. Our politicians are making progress but it is our individual support that helps them to make the big policy changes needed to scale up climate action.

If we want things to change, we have to consistently and repeatedly ask for what we want. Government is made up of human beings. When government is making big decisions, like it is right now regarding stimulus and economic recovery, we must make sure our voices are front and foremost. So, this week, get out your pen, and your phone, and let your expectations be known. 

Challenge 8: Communicate with one level of government with your hope for climate action.

Email (good), mail (better), and offices are now open, so you can set a meeting in person, or schedule a video conference (best).

For Collingwood residents, there is a current opportunity to give feedback at Engage Collingwood. There is a survey for public input into the official plan (opened in late May for several weeks).

Your Communication does not need to be confrontational or angry. It doesn’t have to be full of details and links, or scientific data. It can be as simple as “I am wondering if we will be getting electric buses. OR “ I would ride my bike downtown if there was a bike lane and a safe place to park it”. It’s your opinion. Your wishes. Your future. So express yourself.

I can speak from experience that responding via automated letter has much less impact than a letter outlining your own personal feelings and values. Automated letters send hundreds or thousands of the same letter to your representative. It provides a measurable scale, but personal letters about your own thoughts speak volumes. An in-person conversation has an even deeper impact.

Some tips:

  • You don’t need a stamp on your letter to an MP or the Prime Minister.
  • You don’t need a stamp on your letter to an MPP or the Premier.
  • Include your name, address and postal code so you can receive a response from the right person.

Here’s a great example of a positive contact (and perfect timing). 

The following email was sent in response to a news article:

I was dismayed to read that Alberta is using COVID-19 as an excuse for gutting environmental regulations around the oil and gas industry.  In particular the article mentions the elimination of much of the animal and bird monitoring and they are eliminating testing for methane leaks.

Two thoughts occurred to me.

Canada is a signatory to the International Migratory Bird Treaty. Can it be used in some way to encourage Alberta to continue wildlife monitoring around oil and gas operations.
Our government just gave Alberta a lot of money to reduce their Methane emissions.  If they are eliminating methane leak testing, surely they do not need the large sums of money earmarked for methane leak removal.  As a taxpayer I resent having to help pay to clean up others’ messes.

<Constituent Name>
<Constituent City>

PS: You’re doing a great job!

It’s a great letter because it’s short, to the point, and addresses a specific issue. It resulted in a question being posed by Paul Manly (GPC) in the House of Commons during Question Period on May 13th.

If you do want to write a longer letter here are some resources from organizations and individuals:

A Made in Canada Green Recovery, by Nick Clayton, Town of the Blue Mountains.
A Call to Action, by Sherri Jackson, Creemore ON.
Write2Know Campaign An older link, but provides sample letters, and form letters.

Here are links to contact information for all 3 levels of local government:

Clearview Council (scroll down to list of members)

Send us a copy of your letter, or let us know how your meeting went. We’ll post it on our blog site. If you don’t get a response, don’t be discouraged. It often takes weeks to hear back, but you should receive something. Remember that your government is working for you, so you should be certain they’re moving in the right direction. 

Yours in sustainability,
Sherri Jackson & Laurel Hood

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