There is no such thing as a typical meeting with a Member of Parliament (MP). While all MPs may share the same job, and some share the same party membership, that’s about where there automatic resemblance to each other starts and finishes. It’s not that you can’t have similar meetings with various MPs, but if you start to think that there is a set of rules or expectations on what will happen in meetings the only thing you can count on is that you will run into trouble.
How the meetings unfold will depend on a number of factors, not the least of which is the personality of the individual. The meeting will reflect what’s on their mind, their impression of you, what time they have, and many more issues you cannot control or even be aware of. Let’s not forget what you bring to the meeting with you.
I was once doing a series of MP meetings, about 50 one on one meetings in a three month period. During the course of that process, I encountered MPs who knew all about my issue long before I got there and had done significant research after my meeting request was received. I also met MPs who didn’t know anything about the issue and not much more about the organization or group I was there representing. During the same round of meetings, one MP told me that I should never talk to the constituency MP (himself) but instead I should talk to the party critic. Another MP suggested that I should never meet with MPs unless I brought a hired a lobbyist. I should mention that the particular MP had formerly been the owner of a lobbying firm. One MP was only interested in talking directly to one of the professionals I was representing. Still other MPs thanked me for bringing the issue to their attention and committed to speaking to folks in their caucus and in their constituency about the issue. The range of reactions I received as I met with these MPs was as varied as the faces I was sitting across from. I liked some and disliked others, but although they had all received the same information in advance, none of them responded in the same way.
Having made it clear that MPs are as unpredictable as most people, there are a few things you might expect when meeting an MP.
- They will want to know who “specifically” you are and what it is you want from them.
- They will expect you to explain as clearly as possible what your issue is.
- They may ask you to suggest a solution or that you will provide one as part of your explanation.
- The MP may oppose the position you are supporting and consequently may decide to argue openly or simply not commit to doing anything to help. In this case, note the position, state your counter position, but do not engage in a back and forth argument.
- Always offer to serve as an information resource.
- Remember to take the opportunity to ask the MP for his or her thoughts and how you can help.
- Always remember to thank them for taking the time from their busy schedule to meet with you. If there are any follow-up activities don’t forget to do them.
- Tips For Meeting With Your MP (Results Canada)