Lobbying Your Elected Representatives
Today, power is the deciding factor in domestic political affairs. This power is based on the ability to persuade through thoughts and communications. The goal is to present sound solutions and be able to argue your position in the public arena. This goal is backed by support from the group constituency and public opinion, when possible. Taken together, it is called lobbying your elected representatives.
For labour organizations, time must be spent in achieving collective qualities and attributes that will convince decision-makers that labour deserves respect and attention. If the IAFF is to be an effective participant in the decision-making process in Canada, we should make the effort to achieve these collective qualities.
The art of lobbying is, in essence, the art of communicating effectively. To a surprisingly large extent, organizations are defined by the way in which they choose to communicate. So, deciding the ground rules that will guide how you conduct yourself while in contact with others is not just a matter of unimportant detail; the manner in which you seek to influence public decision-making is every bit as important as the substance of what you say. Effective lobbying begins with a clear understanding of governmental organization and practices.
There are major similarities among the federal and provincial governments in Canada because all of them have evolved from common roots. In some provinces, labour organizations are consulted carefully and frequently; in others, through no fault on labour's part, relations are cold, distant and irregular. Ideally, the people who most directly affect decision-making are the lobbyist's principal targets. Unfortunately, these people are not always directly accessible.