By Karyn Pugliese | Cross-posted from the FAQMP Blog
Tonight at 8 pm ET a special season finale of #FAQMP. We asked you to vote for the MP you wanted to see most on the show again, and you picked Green Party Leader Elizabeth May in our All-Star MP vote.
Margaret Wilson wrote into our Web site with a question that sums up something we have heard over and over again this year on #FAQMP: many people are frustrated that they are not getting a response when they write to their MPs. So Margaret asked: what is the most effective method a constituent has of getting a politician’s attention?
Elizabeth May recalled that in the days when she worked as an environment advisor to the Mulroney government, letters to MPs were used as a barometer to measure public reaction and wants on policy. She explains that such letters greatly influenced Brian Mulroney’s environmental policies. But she believes that has changed.
“Well, they are ignoring the letters to their office, aren’t they?” says May. She encourages people to go back to an old, tried but true method of getting a politician’s attention.
“I think it’s through the media. I think people underestimate the importance of Letters to the Editor in the conventional mainstream papers that are still put out on paper. A lot of people are drawn, because they think, Gee I’m not getting enough information from the Globe and Mail or the National Post on climate, they don’t seem to want to cover what the Green Party is doing, so people tend to move away and start reading online journals – that are excellent – like ipolitics or reading the Tyee out in BC. We get different information sources. But I urge people like Margaret, please write letters to the mainstream papers, write 200-300 word letters … get your message. Politicians notice what people say to the Letters to the Editor section of the newspapers.”
May says doing so will not only get an MP’s attention, and educate other members of the public, but also – and perhaps more importantly – letters grab the attention of assignment editors. When editors see people responding to a story, they understand the issue is resonating with the public, and are encouraged to do more like-minded stories, if for no other reason than to sell more papers. Ultimately, she says, by influencing the newspapers editorial coverage, one can better influence a politician’s thinking.
Also in this interview, we find out why May says the federal government could be headed toward a constitutional challenge over the controversial pipeline, and she explains where she stands on the seal hunt and abortion. Plus she has one or two things to say about this year’s budget.
We have that and more tonight at 8 PM ET.
On a personal note, some of you may have seen some tweeting about this being my final #FAQMP show. It is with a mixture of sadness and joy that I confirm the rumour. Sadness, because I’m leaving what I believe to be a valuable show designed to give Canadians a public forum to open a conversation with their MP on issues that are important to them. I am grateful and honoured to have been a part of it.
But there is also a great feeling of joy as I accept a new responsibility as the Director of News and Programming at the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, where I will have the unique opportunity of working with some of the most talented people in Indian country, Métis country and Inuk Country – sharing stories close to the hearts of my people with Canada and the world.
Of course I won’t really be leaving you, because we will always have Twitter.
I want to thank all of you who have supported #FAQMP this year. I am grateful for your help and friendship. We could not have done it without you. And be sure to keep an eye on the Web site for news/updates about a season two of #FAQMP.
With love and respect,