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How to get involved in your government

This Article is By: Kingston Electors    On  Aug. - 08, 2006

"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing". 

-- Albert Einstein.

We all need to be involved, or else our views will be ignored

The social framework associated with a strong democracy requires that elected representatives and governments be contacted when there are specific issues or concerns about a pending legislation.

This includes matters of praise, criticism or suggestions and cannot be done without active individual participation; the political and government processes do not operate in a vacuum.

It is a fallacy to attempt justifying inaction on the basis of future elections.  It should also be noted that regular elections do not necessarily imply democracy, as "elections: can also be held in non-democratic societies.

Everyone should fulfil this civic responsibility by contacting politicians and government departments in a timely manner; this is democracy in action.

Taking such action leads to a strengthening of democratic values and to the mitigation of the influence of special interest groups.

This process itself is not time consuming or complex; views and concerns only need to be expressed in the manner outlined below.

One should always remember that:
1.    one cannot be part of the solution through inaction and passivity;
2.    criticism without individual involvement is futile;
3.    democracy is a communication process with elected politicians;
4.    there can be no point in only complaining later after the facts.

In short, democracy requires involvement; failure to do so demonstrates a lack of social values, which can only lead to a meaningless "patriotism".

Where to send communication to an elected representative

Kingston City Hall: 613-546-0000

City Councillors:
http://www.cityofkingston.ca/cityhall/council/councillors/

For a federal MP (Ottawa):
Phone: 800.622.6322 (800 O Canada) or web: www.tinyurl.com/8ebgm No postage fee is required for a letter mailed to a federal MP.

For a provincial MPP,
Ontario: Phone: 800.668.2727 or web: www.tinyurl.com/8c4r2

How to communicate with an Elected Representative A communication to an Elected Representative must be in written form and VERY SHORT; its purpose is to inform, not educate.  Thus, it should be not time consuming to produce (or for the politician to read).

Typically, such communication should be:
1)    personally addressed to the political representative by name;
2)    written as a letter or e-mail (definitely not as a telephone call);
3)    concise, 3 or 4 sentences - politicians are pressed for time;
4)    identifiable, i.e.  containing your name, address, telephone number;
5)    dated (and signed, if regular mail is used);
6)    sent or hand delivered to the constituency office.

Group petitions or pre-composed form letters are practically worthless in this regard and should NOT be used.

Any electronic correspondence, such as e-mail, should contain the full name, address and telephone number, and not just an "alias".

* * * * * * *

Remember #1: KEEP IT SHORT, but do it.  Politicians are responsive to "numbers" and the pulse of their electorate.  There can be no reason for individuals who care about this society, and its future, not to fulfill this basic civic obligation.

Remember #2: Get personal acquaintances and friends to be similarly pro-active in the process and to contact their own political representatives; in other words, do spread the word and the need for action.  Get them also to convince their own acquaintances to do the same.

Remember #3: Consider joining a Citizen's Organization.  The more members an organization has, the more likely politicians will be receptive to its advocacy function.