On February 20th, 2020, approximately 60 lawyers from law associations all across Ontario descended upon Queen's Park for a full day of meetings and events.
After some networking over breakfast, our members received a recap of key issue and a session on Lobbying/Advocacy 101 with Fasken's Lindsay Aagaard before heading in to watch Question Period.
We then hosted a luncheon reception for all MPPs and staff where both the Honorable Doug Downey, MPP (Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte) and Ontario's Attorney General and Gurratan Singh, MPP (Brampton East) and the NDP critic for the Attorney General said a few words.
At 1:30, individual members began breaking out into various groups and headed off to meetings with individual MPPs, Cabinet Ministers, and Ministers' staff. In all, 26 separate meetings were held!
The day wrapped up with a round table debrief.
Lobbying is commonly understood to be a a type of advocacy that can occur when groups or individuals bring issues and concerns directly to their government. This would involve speaking with MPPs (elected public officers) in their local riding, to party leaders, ministers and critics, and political staff with regard to developing or changing government policy. The Lobbying Act states there should be “free and open access to government is an important matter of public interest”. Lobbying is a defined term in the Lobbying Registry Act.
FOLA's Lobby Day is an opportunity to speak with politicians to positively affect change in policy.
FOLA's Lobby Day is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of Ontario's 47 Law Associations, and issues concerning Ontario's roughly 12,000 small and sole practicing lawyer among some of the most important decision makers in the province while at the same time, offering FOLA's members a glimpse into the life of a politician and/or their staff.
In Advance of the Meeting
Plan how you'll describe the issues you want to discuss.
Make sure to avoid unnecessary jargon and don't "talk down" to legislators and their staff. These individuals are smart and well informed, but they usually won't have legal backgrounds.
If you're going as a team, plan beforehand who will take the lead and how you'll each effectively share your main points.
Attending the Meeting
Be on time. The member may be running late -but you shouldn’t!
Recognize that you'll likely be talking to a staff member too.
Be succinct: You will have 15 quality minutes: limit your message and stay on point. Have a clear "ask"? Now's your time to make it!
Describe the importance of the issue to your work. Use anecdotes or personal narratives. Explain how this affects their community and the public.
Be open to questions. If you don’t know the answer, offer to get it and follow up.
Conclude and reiterate top points, making sure to capture follow-ups or commitments.
After the Meeting
Thank them verbally for meeting with you.
Follow up by sending a thank you email to the MPP and the staff person who spoke with you. This is especially important if your goal is to establish a relationship.
Touch base with office contacts every three months to help build a relationship.
And don't forget to check out this handy video.
FOLA will help arrange meetings for you, but if you choose to arrange your own, here are some great contact resources.
Here's your go-to list for all current MPPs and staff. Looking for a Cabinet Minister or their staff? Click on Ministries (drop down menu). Looking for an MPP or their staff? Select Legislative and then the party they belong to. Here's quick link.
Link to the main Ontario MPP & staff directory (includes Ministers and Parliamentary Assistants).
Looking for your MPP and don't know who that is or what Riding you live in? Look it up! Just click on the blue button below.