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Why your MP wants to hear from you

Today the Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers held a lunch and learn on Defending Social Programs for a Stronger Canada through activism. Megan Leslie, Halifax’s MP was invited to speak and what she had to say was something I wish you all could have heard:

MPs are just members of your community. We don’t have more power than you, we have different power. We have the privilege of presenting your concerns to the House of Commons. But we have so many balls in the air at one time that we can’t be experts on everything. We need you to keep us informed. MPs rely on their community to keep them up to date.

Now you and I know that not every MP takes this type of approach. And I don’t believe any one party is better than another at meeting with its constituents- I’ve had “yes”s and “no”s from all parties. But I do think it’s important to remember that for many MPs meeting with their constituents is important and welcomed.

Perhaps we have a responsibility to offer our points of view to our MPs. This doesn’t have to be done in person. As Leslie pointed out, MPs and their staff read the front page of any newspaper and then turn to the Letters to the Editor section. Members present petitions to the House of Commons if 25 people or more have signed them. Journalists and newspaper editorial boards need to hear from their readership about the issues that they want covered. And lunch and learns like the one I attended today gives communities an opportunity to gather, learn about a topic and discuss with one another.

I felt that this blog is especially timely given the upcoming MP lobby on health care the week of April 8th. This is an opportunity for all of us to share stories with our MPs on what is happening with health care in our community. When we talk about our experience with health care, we’re the expert. And our MPs need to know how we, our neighbours, and our friends are experiencing care, where our concerns lie, and what we want for the future of health care in our community.

April 8th is a riding week for MPs- meaning that they’ll be in their constituency offices. Why not write a letter to the editor, share a health care experience with your MP- in person, by phone or letter, talk to your community newspaper’s editorial board, or to your neighbours and your friends about your worries, hopes, or love of medicare. Don’t forget to mention the 2014 Health Accord- we need to get the word out there quickly!

Our MPs need to hear from us and the national lobby day is an opportunity to have a discussion with them. If you’re interested in participating, contact me: asilnicki@canadians.org, your local chapter, or your regional office.

For more information on health care and the 2014 Health Accord read my other blogs or visit our site: canadians.org/healthcare