So, it happened. Doug Ford is the premier of Ontario for four more years because, according to the media, he is a changed person: willing to listen, willing to change, willing to govern according to the wishes of all people.
Well, if that’s the case, we have some work to do. As you know, building power through developing relationships is what we do here at the Institute for Change Leaders (ICL). So why not start with those who want to serve you and your neighbours?
After the election results, if you’re stuck thinking to yourself, “what now?”, then we feel you. We get it. And we know what to do to keep change happening and build connections with those in power (or not) who truly care.
1) Contact the Winning Candidate
Whatever the party, phone your local candidates (or send a note or email) to congratulate them on their success and tell them you’re interested in setting up a meeting to cultivate the relationship, especially if they’re new. Include their constituency assistants in the meeting – these gatekeepers often have more time (and information) to help you than the politicians themselves.
In order to truly cultivate the relationship, you must first listen to their views on your issues and ask about their personal connections to the matter – maybe they have a family member in need of long-term care, or a mother who was a teacher, or a friend who loves wilderness camping. After listening to them, discuss what motivates you to work for change (the story of Self). Search for a win-win link in your core values and the change you are seeking.
Try to get the meeting early on, while they are still formulating plans.
You can also:
a) Invite them to visit your organization if you work in one, or to meet the people you organize or serve.
b) Ask if you can add the candidate and the constituency assistant to your mailing list (if you have one) and your email. Send updates, backgrounders, invitations to events, newsletters and more to cultivate the relationship. Encourage them to follow you on social media, if that’s appropriate. Follow them on their social media, and ask to be on the list for their newsletters.
c) Throughout their time in office, ask them to speak out on your issues. Arrange photo opportunities and news coverage of the events you are organizing. Build working relationships with them as much as you can, and they will be more likely to take the actions you want.
2) Contact the Losing Candidates
This includes those who were in office and lost, as well as those who ran but haven’t been elected (yet).
Phone them or you can drop them a note before they close their campaign office or webpage in the next few days. Console them. This can be extremely valuable, as they may choose to run again or take on new positions of power, and they will certainly remember you fondly.
If the candidate happens to believe in your cause, recruit them as a volunteer! (Or they might be looking for a job!) They know a lot about the system and have accumulated lots of volunteers and connections (plus, suddenly, they’ll have a lot of time on their hands!)
You may also consider:
a) Recruiting volunteers (or hiring) from the election campaign workers. They know about your neighbourhood, fundraising, publicity and a host of other skills you need.
b) Re-evaluating your political environment. How will the political situation affect the change you want? Will the government now pass laws that affect the people you care about? If the implications are serious:
i. Educate your friends/clients/donours/patients/participants/alumni/audience. Ask them to contact the newly elected politicians and share insights and positions on your issues. Consider asking them to join you in an ICL training if they are not sure how to connect with their MPPs.
ii. Reach back to your core values and reconfirm why you want to make the change you are seeking. Contact ICL ([email protected]) if you want to share your story or get some strategy and tactic ideas.
Still wondering what you can do? Here are some tips!
- Tip #1: So your favourite candidates aren’t in power?
If you have friends who are in an elected office but not in a position of power, they can still help you by acting as a 'shadow cabinet' -- asking questions, raising issues and speaking to the media. Be such to reach out and keep in contact with them!
- Tip #2: If you work for a registered charity, you can be multi-partisan but not favour one party over another – but don’t be too passive either.
If you work for a registered charity, don't favour one party and risk alienating another. But don't be so timid that you fail to take legal, ethical, and appropriate action that could help the people you care about. Charities are allowed to provide politicians with factual information on issues and express their opinions and positions.
- Tip #3: Politicians want to hear about your issues!
Many elected representatives are surprised how seldom activists and non-profit groups approach them. They try to understand all sides of an argument, but if they only hear from the business sector, they may not learn about your views. Be open-minded and know that many people will care more than you might think!
No matter where your political stances lie, there are ways of building meaningful relationships and creating the change you want to see. Reaching out and establishing these connections is a vital first step in fighting for your cause. Always remember there is a rich network of activists and changeleaders who are willing to hear your story and help you. So take action! Make the phone calls, have those conversations. And remember ICL is always here to support you in any way we can. Together, we can make a change.