In Canada’s increasingly rigid and closed political system, it requires more and more effort to exert influence over elected officials. Yet, it can be done.
With the Liberal government – along with the Bloc & NDP – pushing Bill C-10, and with the introduction of Bill C-36, an all-out assault on freedom of expression is taking place.
Whatever ‘justification’ the Trudeau government uses for the legislation, the reality is that we are witnessing an unprecedented transfer of power from individual Citizens to the government.
And, with much of the establishment media shying away from criticism of these moves – whereas most journalists (even at legacy media outlets) were once fierce defenders of free expression – many people are seemingly starting to feel hopeless.
That sense of hopelessness generated by the Trudeau government has been exacerbated by recent moves by the Conservative Party, particularly with the reversal on the carbon tax and a perceived unwillingness to strongly push back on the core ideology of the statist parties.
Beyond that specific partisan consideration, the sense of hopelessness also stems from the increasingly rigid nature of Canada’s political system, where anyone who dissents from the establishment narrative is immediately booted out and removed, and where the views of regular Canadians are often left out of government policy.
Many people feel that their MPs do not listen to them, and that they are unable to influence the decisions made by their Member’s of Parliament.
Yet, having worked in politics at various levels, and in different parties, I believe that – though it is certainly getting tougher – you do have the power to influence your Member of Parliament.
Here are some of the ways you can do so:
MPs represent many thousands of people. They receive a ton of requests and letters and emails and phone calls. They are also inundated with form letters written by organizations that seek to make it appear there is widespread support for a cause by pre-writing a letter and having people sign their name to it.
Studies show the human brain can manage about 150 ‘relationships,’ meaning you cannot really ‘know’ more people than that at any given time. Considering that most politicians already know more people than the average person and given what we saw above in terms of them being inundated with information, and you can see how one email, or one phone call will not have much impact.
This is where ‘being annoying’ comes in.
Of course, I do not mean actually being an annoying person, but that it is essential to use various and repeated avenues of communication.
If you send an email, send a follow-up, call, and show up in person to share your opinion, your chance of being remembered and thus getting a foot-in-the-door when it comes to influence goes up.
The fact is, many MPs are genuinely good people (including the one I worked for), and if you put in a strong effort to get in contact, show a sense of determination and persistence, and make a good case for your perspective, you will be remembered and you will have a good chance of having an impact on the thinking of the MP you speak with.
Get involved in your local Electoral District Association
From the outside, it may seem that it is tough to get involved in politics.
But it is not.
A funny thing parties do not like to admit is that they are all desperate for volunteers and will rarely turn away help on the ground.
Say you live in a riding with a Conservative MP.
You join the CPC Electoral District Association, you show up to meetings, and you help.
You will get more face-time with your MP than 99.9% of Canadians, and you will certainly be remembered.
Your chance of having influence goes way up in that situation.
Certainly, we do not all have the time or inclination to do that, but if you are someone who has the time to get involved in your EDA (for whatever party you support), you can begin to exert some more direct influence.
Use Transactional Arguments
While there are idealistic politicians, the reality is that many are motivated by transactional thinking.
They want to get elected.
They want to get re-elected.
They want to form government.
They want to be in cabinet.
They want to lead their party/parlay their political success into the corporate world.
None of that is inherently bad.
After all, people should be encouraged to be ambitious and achieve their full potential.
Where things have gone horribly wrong in Canada is how the top brass of our political parties exploit that natural way of thinking.
In the United States or even the UK, being outspoken and independent – including calling out your own party and building your own personal support base – is often rewarded and is seen as compatible with being an elected official within a party.
In Canada, any sign of independent thinking is feared, and those who seek to push back against their parties from time to time are quickly booted out.
The power to sign nomination papers rests with party leaders, effectively turning political parties into dictatorships.
Thus, the top party brass rules through fear, forcing people to go along with things they disagree with.
Ask yourself this:
How many CPC MPs do you think were supportive of Erin O’Toole’s carbon tax flip?
How many Liberal MPs do you think are disturbed by the Trudeau government suing the Speaker of the House (and Liberal MP Anthony Rota) to block the release of documents demanded by Parliament?
In both those cases, I would bet that a majority of CPC & Liberals MPs completely disagree with the direction their party is moving in.
And, if their ability to run as a candidate for their party was dependent upon actual Canadian voters, rather than one person (their party leader), signing their nomination papers, they would have made that opposition quite public and quite clear.
Again, to bring up the example of the UK and the US, in both those countries people will push back against their own parties quite strongly, and debate the philosophical direction their party should go. In many cases, they will even denounce their own leaders when there is a strong enough disagreement.
Do they always get booted out?
They often maintain their position in their party because that position is based on a connection with their actual party members and the general public, not fealty to one person at the top.
What am I getting at here?
Political parties in Canada use transactional, fear-based arguments to keep their people in line, so the public must use similar arguments to push politicians out of that rigid and anti-democratic thinking.
Note, when I talk about ‘fear,’ I am talking about fear of electoral consequences. Violence is – aside from being illegal and morally wrong – the opposite of persuasion and will only end up ruining the cause of whomever is foolish enough to stoop to such a terrible level. Violence must be fully rejected.
Most politicians want to keep their power
Knowing that politicians want to be re-elected, anything that seems to make that less likely will get their attention.
Someone who understands the issues, seems to represent their party base, is involved in the party/actively engaged in making their voice heard, and has shown commitment and resilience, is someone who will have the attention of a politician.
If that individual begins amassing supporters, and then threatens to run against the current MP – or support someone else running against them – unless that MP votes a certain way or takes a strong stand for/against specific legislation, they will be highly persuasive.
It becomes a battle of willpower and pressure.
If the pressure from the party overwhelms the pressure from potential local rivals, then the central party wins.
If the local pressure is more powerful, then the politician may very well push back against their central party.
And yes, that does happen.
Consider that there are likely internal fights within the CPC – an internal civil war perhaps – over where the party will go. There is certainly pushback against the possible embrace of a Universal Basic Income, and there is certainly pushback over the disturbing embrace of the ‘Woke’ ‘Neo-Com’ framing of Canada. That pushback would not be happening without the pressure that people like us have helped to generate by speaking our minds and contacting elected officials, so it does have an impact – even what impact is tough to see from the outside.
Run For Office
Canada’s political parties are not really democratic, in that they often shut down nomination meetings or simply appoint a preferred candidate.
But they do not do that everywhere, and they are – at the end of the day – simply collections of individuals. If those individuals change, and if the views within parties’ change, parties themselves will be different.
Nothing about the system we have is inevitable or unchangeable.
To bring all these ideas together, if you make yourself annoying by being a consistent presence communicating with your MP, if you get involved, if you build support and make your MP consider that you are someone with willpower and resolve, and yet they still refuse to listen to you and instead give in to their party or surrender to weakness and political correctness, then you should consider running for their job.
Or, join a party that is committed to actual democracy and actual freedom, and help punish those parties that refuse to respect the individual rights of Canadians.
Competition is a positive force in the world, because it makes people stronger and encourages the greatest to rise to the top. And the more we have Canadians getting involved in their parties, sharing their views, pressuring their MPs, and even running for the job themselves, the more our system will – even in the face of brutal establishment pushback – begin to represent our nation and become worthy of being called free and democratic.
The last thing I will say here is this:
Those in power – particularly those like Justin Trudeau who want to turn Canada into an increasingly centralized, statist, and anti-freedom nation – know that the first step to getting the power they demand is for you to be demoralized.
They want you to feel powerless.
They want you to feel hopeless.
They want you to think nobody will listen.
And that is why the first step towards influencing your MP and influencing the future of our nation is realizing that you have the power to do so.