Recommended Do's and Don'ts for Letter
provincial and national capitals, letters are the barometers
that measure political interest. Letters are counted, and
they do count!
any letter is influential. Just as we at the grassroots
level have become more organized in our letter writing
campaigns, legislators have become more savvy in
distinguishing a drummed-up letter from an expression of
personal concern. So, it is especially important that your
letter be personal, thoughtful, specific, and concise. Your
letters should be written with the expectation that they
will be read by someone of sensitivity and intelligence, but
who may be slightly less well-informed than you are on your
do's and don'ts to consider in writing a
your legislative member's name correctly. Cabinet Ministers
should be addressed as "Honourable."
Do write as
an individual constituent. Because legislators pay the most
attention to personal letters from their constituents, it's
important that your letter express your own views. To make
this clear, it will help to use personal stationery rather
than a postcard or form letter; express your views in your
own words rather than those of another; and refer to
previous communications with the member, if possible.
Organizational letters can be useful for some issues but are
never a substitute for personal letters.
one page or less. Because legislators are so busy, they do
not have much time to read through a long, involved letter
in order to discover your point. If your letter is limited
to one page, they can scan it quickly. If you have more
information than will fit on one page, include it as
background material, clearly marked as such and attached to
only one subject and clearly identify it as such. For
example, at the top of the page, below the date, write, "Re:
(name of bill or issue)." This will speed up the routing of
the letter in the office. If you have more than one subject
which you would like to cover, then write a separate letter
for each one.
Do be as
specific as possible. Regardless of what you are writing
about, be as specific as possible in describing it. If it is
a particular bill, try to refer to its number, the person
who introduced it, and what it will do. Similarly, if you
refer to the position of the legislator, it will demonstrate
your specific interest in his/her actions. Show as much
knowledge as you can, but don't hesitate to write merely
because you are not an "expert."
your letter timely. Try to ensure that your letter arrives
while the issue is alive. Your legislator will appreciate
having your views and information while the bill is before
Do ask the
legislator to do something specific. It is important to ask
for a specific action such as, "Please vote for (or against)
your name, return address and email on the letter.
write letters if they are legible; otherwise type letters.
Write each legislator individually, avoiding photocopies or
carbons. Braille letters are fine if accompanied by a print
transcription of the letter. Members may answer your letter
in braille upon request but this will delay their response
letters that demand the legislator's vote for or against a
a chain letter or form letter.
threaten the legislator with defeat at the next election.
become a chronic letter writer. Choose your issues wisely.