There are two main audiences that you will want to consider:
> Party candidates up for election
> Voters in your community
It is important to raise questions and concerns affecting refugees and immigrants to both of these audiences. Here are some suggestions to do this.
For a list of key questions directed to political parties and candidates in the 2008 federal elections, click here.
Asking questions to party candidates:
- Ask questions of candidates or campaigners
: At local, public campaign events
: During radio call-in shows
: In personal email to local party candidates or to their constituency office
: During a door-to-door visit from party campaigners
: In a letter-to-the-editor to your local newspaper
: In a weblog post
: In any other opportunity to ask questions to local party candidates
- Be concise – focus on one issue/ask one question at a time. It is important to send a clear message, even if you don’t receive a clear answer from the political candidates.
- If your Member of Parliament is running for re-election, find out what s/he has said on issues affecting refugees and immigrants. You can use their past statements to provide more background to your question.
- You can find out what your MP has said (or has not said) in the House of Commons in the Hansard (transcript of Parliamentary debates) at http://tinyurl.com/5p8rr5 (use the search function at left and enter your MP's name as a keyword).
- Follow up with your Member of Parliament after the election. Hold her/him accountable for statements s/he made during the election campaign!
Community outreach on the issues:
Issues of particular interest to refugees and immigrants in Canada are not among the top, publicized platforms of the main political parties. The CCR will be publishing responses from the major political parties on policy questions affecting refugees and immigrants on 30 September. We encourage you to use these responses, in addition to the CCR’s questions for party candidates, in your local community outreach efforts.
TIPS on using CCR questions to political parties in community outreach:
- Use local media contacts during the election campaign to raise the issues (see section below on Using local media to raise issues)
- Use a staff meeting to highlight key issues affecting refugees and immigrants and where each party stands. Encourage fellow staff members to share this information with others.
- Organize a townhall-style meeting to discuss issues affecting refugees and immigrants in your local area, in the context of the federal election. This is a great opportunity for participants to give their perspectives on their issues.
- Organize an all-party local candidates’ debate on issues affecting refugees and immigrants. Invite members of the press to cover the event (contact Colleen at email@example.com for additional suggestions on How to organize an all-candidates debate)
Using local media to raise issues:
Journalists and media outlets work overtime during election campaigns. They cover both their regular issues and the federal election campaign events. At the same time, when an issue does attract attention, there is much more pressure on the politicians to respond positively.
This means it’s especially important to have a clear, concise media strategy leading up to the election and to use limited media time wisely.
Any questions? Send an email to Colleen French, Communication and Networking Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Be very focused. The media is much more likely to pick up on a single issue than a collection of issues.
- Highlight a local issue or story that illustrates the need for policy changes on issues highlighted in the CCR priority questions (for example: stories of prolonged family separation, the need for the Refugee Appeal Division, etc.)
- Have local spokespeople available to speak on the key priority issue from a local perspective
- Use community media (local call-in radio shows, (immigrant) community newspapers and websites, university radio programs, blogs, etc.) to communicate messages to newcomers in the local area.
- Ask a local radio show to organize a discussion panel during the election campaign on immigration issues. You don’t have the same control over the content or the questions asked, but you have the opportunity to reach more members of the public.