Talking to your MP about research

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A step-by-step guide for researchers connecting with Members of Parliament. (reprinted and adapted with permission from acechr.ca)

Here we offer a step-by-step guide to connecting with your MP, with talking points and key themes to advance for consistency and guidance for staying on message. It includes:

  • an editable brief to give to them when you first meet with space to fill in local details
  • a marked-up copy of a few Naylor report pages (you can choose different pages if you want, we’re just making it easier for you if you are happy with our choices)
  • other links and documents

Key point overall:

  • Your core goal is for your MP to leave the meeting feeling very positively about research and about implementing the recommendations of Canada’s Fundamental Science Review, otherwise known as the Naylor Report.

(1) Identify the MP for the riding in which you live and/or work.

Use this website: http://www.parl.gc.ca/Parliamentarians/en/members

Key points:

  • Not all MPs will have universities in their ridings. Please start with ridings in which you live and work, but also consider MPs of nearby ridings.
  • It is very important that we reach out to MPs who do not have a university in their riding.
  • You can find nearby MPs by entering just the first half of your postal code and searching on that, or by using a map of your province: http://www.elections.ca/scripts/vis/finded?L=e&PAGEID=20

(2) Sign up to indicate that you’re going to take the local lead for meeting with your MP.

Email comms@cap.ca to indicate which MP you have contacted, or if you have any questions

(3) Call your local constituency office to set up a time to go there and meet with your MP.

Please call rather than emailing. It is more effective.

E.g., “Hello, my name is [name] and I’m a constituent of MP [name]. I’m a professor/scientist/researcher/scholar at [institution]. My work is/has been funded by the government of Canada through federal funding agencies. I’d like to set a time to come meet my member of parliament, first, to sincerely thank him/her as a representative of the citizens in our riding and of the taxpayers who fund this work, and second, to tell him/her a little about the research that is being done thanks to these federal funds. Can we please set a meeting time that is convenient for him/her?”

Key points:

  • Save the acronyms (NSERC, CIHR, SSHRC, CFI, etc.) and any mention of funding difficulties for later. Right now the goal is to convey that research matters and that federal funding creates opportunities.
  • The exact federal funding source(s) are not important at this stage. What matters is that these are federal dollars.

(4) When you go to meet with your MP, your goal is help him/her understand what researchers do and the value of research to Canada. Convey your passion for research & why it matters to Canada!

Key points:

  • Recall : Your core goal is for your MP to leave the meeting feeling very positively about research and about implementing the recommendations of the Naylor report.
  • Chances are that your MP has an idea what lawyers, doctors, teachers, business owners, farmers, accountants, etc. do. In many cases, they may not know what researchers do, how research works, nor the effects that it has on the Canadian economy, the health and well-being of people in Canada, nor on Canada as a country.
  • Stories are powerful! Tell personal career stories or discovery stories of how fundamental science led to health/technology/other breakthroughs.
  • Some more tips, courtesy of an American organization: http://faseb.org/Science-Policy-and-Advocacy/Become-an-Advocate/Advocacy-Tool-Kit/Share-Your-Story.aspx

(5) Bring the 1-page brief below, filled in with your local details, and additional documents as you see fit.

Edit the “Fundamental Research Works for Canadians” brief however you like. If you want additional or different stories to include, consider these stories from SSHRC as well as stories and accounts of how research builds communities from the CFI.

Key points:

(6) The day after the meeting (or that evening if you have time), send an email of thanks, with an invitation to visit your lab or group and its members. Consider attaching an electronic copy of the brief you gave them.

For example:

Dear ____,

Thank you very much for taking the time to meet with me yesterday/today. I really enjoyed talking with you about the research I am leading on _____ and the important role that federally-funded research plays in our local economy and in Canada. I am attaching the brief and other documents for your records.

As we discussed, I would like to invite you to visit my group/lab/research centre so that you can meet everyone and see for yourself some of the work that your constituents are funding through their tax dollars.

Are there days and times that might be possible for you in the coming weeks?

Yours sincerely,