Tag Archives: advocacy

How to Torpedo Your Chances of Getting Political Change.

A great post I saw on Facebook over my objection to a truly awful, sexist comment against one of our local female columnists was one that suggested using Clippy in Word to warn a writer:


As a politician, I deal with angry people all the time. Anger can be good. It tells you something is wrong. It gets people advocating and politically involved. It’s how you channel and work with that anger  that makes the difference.

First, do your research. Let me say that again, “Do your research.” Maybe what you are enraged about is not true. Maybe the issue is already being worked on. Maybe there are very good reasons it is not being addressed. Maybe what you want interferes with the life of everyone else. Maybe what you want is a good way to go or even necessary, but people are happy with the way things are.

What are the reasons people and politicians don’t agree with you? It’s not always obvious. For instance, cyclists ride on the sidewalk because they feel (and frankly are) unsafe on busy roads. Pedestrians dislike cyclists on the sidewalk because they feel unsafe on the sidewalk (One of my dogs was hit by a cyclist as we were walking on the sidewalk). This can come out as, all cyclists don’t obey the rules of the road.

So you have done your research and you have good reasons for your cause. Your opinion is not everyone’s opinion. You have arguments and solutions to counter why your change can’t be done. Now you are ready to figure out how to present your arguments.

We live in a democracy. Do you know how important a free press is? Look at the Arab spring. The dangers of climate change. The local Uniroyal water scandal in the 90s. All covered by the media, both social and traditional. It’s not idle chatter that people are concerned with the shrinking of the local newspapers and the loss of investigative journalism. There are reasons why journalists and bloggers are jailed and killed. They expose the truth.As the founder of the Toronto Star once said.”The role of the journalist is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”  They create discussion.

The Oxford English Dictionary says that the two swearwords that begin with a “c” and a “n”, are the most offensive at this time. You are trying to get the press onside for your issue. Swearing at a journalist, belittling them, saying negative things about them on social and other media does not help your cause.Don’t be personal, stick to your issues. Other people you want to support your cause are listening.They may belong to the racial, sexual or income group your words attack. Some of them are the people who can make your change. I’m talking about politicians.

Let me emphasis again: In a representative democracy you want to convince politicians that your cause is right. Like the media, politicians are people. We are your neighbours, your friends, family, co-workers.We pay taxes. You and your neighbours elect us. We aren’t aliens or nobility or dictators.

It does not help your cause when you swear at politicians, shout at us, call us names. Do not say that we are on the take with the other side or feeding at the trough. No matter the party or if I agree with them, almost all politicians I know at whatever level, are, yes, honest and there to help their community. Why would you do this if you are trying to get someone to support you and invest a lot of money in your cause?

In Canada, we do not have a bribery culture. It is very rare. All politicians ask for when they fund or support your cause is a handshake, an invite to your opening, a thank you, and a picture for their constituents. Yes we like positive publicity. People need to know what we are doing for us to get re-elected!

A comment on my objections stated sarcastically, “Oh dear, you have lost a politician as a (Facebook) friend”. Because, you know, elected politicians are bad.  Is that really a good thing when you want us to support your cause and listen to what you have to say?

And by the way, if you don’t like what politicians are doing, make sure you vote in the next election.










How to Talk to your Councillor so the Councillor will Listen.

Been getting a bit of mail on the LRT and Policing issues. Here’s some thoughts on what works and what doesn’t in convincing me.

1. Don’t tell me I am for the trains because I didn’t have a train set when I was a boy. Hello! I am a woman and if I was voting for a rapid transit system because of what I didn’t get for Christmas when I was achild, we would be looking at Barbie Camper Rapid Transit (BCRT)

1a. Don’t say it’s Ken Seiling’s legacy. Ken is the last person to want a statue or legacy, really.

1b. Don’t say I am Ken’s or Carl’s or even, at other times, Doug’s toadie. I think and decide for myself, that is one of the pleasures of municipal politics vs party politics.

1c. Don’t write about the City Fathers, ’cause I then know you are the age of my father should he have lived. And I’m no spring chicken.

2. Don’t say that any of the councillors or myself are on the take.  Do you really think slander gets your point across?

3. Don’t say staff is stupid. Our staff work hard. Sure say you disagree.

4. Don’t say councillors don’t know anything about how the average person lives or pays taxes (Particularly after you have quoted a property tax bill that shows you live in the rich part of town). I always know what my taxes will be because I actually live in a house with average assessment.

5. Don’t say it’s all a done deal. Particularly in the case of LRT. Whatever side you are on, I won’t go into details, but the vote is closer than you would think.

6. Don’t have all your followers send an email that is exactly the same and worse, exactly the same and long. Individualize or it seems like a spam.

7. Don’t send really long and rambling emails at all. 2 paragraphs, polite, short and to the point. Add an url to your blog if you want to go on (and on and on).

Two of the recent comments on this blog show good examples of replies I listen to. The one from Ruth about LRT and the one from Eric about the environment (OK, Eric, you are right about the hydro rates).

They address me by name, so I know they realize I am a real person and not that strange creature called a “politician”. While passionate, they are polite and make their points. Thanks!

For more ideas on how to “Fight City Hall”, go to my e-book, located here

Ignite Waterloo: Great Topics in 5 minutes

Ignite Waterloo holds presentations on any topic with 15 slides and 5 minutes. The last one was at the Children’s Museum on March 3. The next is July 7th. For more information go to www.ignitewaterloo.ca.

If you are like me, and uber busy and can’t go, videos were taken of each presentation and they are a blast.

Here a couple of them that are loosely to do with municipal affairs. They will lead you to the others, like the one about the Evolution of Sex!

How to Change a Politician’s Mind.

In a Roundabout Way

Policing in 2009

Nudging People Onto Bikes in the Age of the Automobile  Shows the Bike Couch! I rode that once in a commuter challenge!