Letter writing is an effective way to influence government. In many cases, politicians and bureaucrats rely on letters to give them a sense of public opinion. As with letters to newspaper editors, one person’s point of view can be interpreted as representing the views of many. For this reason a single personally written letter can have a greater impact than a petition signed by many.
Special care needs to be taken when writing letters to politicians and ministers if you want your message to be heard and considered. We’ve put together some tips to help you get your message through when writing your letters:
1. Be brief, specific and reasonable
Try to keep your letter to one page, two max. Deal with one issue at a time and remember that the people you are writing to are very busy and receive many letters.
2. Properly format your letter
- – Include the date
- – Use the proper form of address. Click here for some tips.
- – Reference your letter’s topic or issue either in uppercase, bold or underlined text
- – Use correct grammar and spelling
- – Sign your letter
3. Identify the issue and check your facts
Be accurate and ensure your information is up-to-date and based on facts. The more an issue falls within the government representative’s sphere of influence, the more likely it will be considered.
4. Identify your stake in the issue
How will you be affected? Are you a local resident? Do you use the area for recreation? You don’t have to be an authority on a particular issue, but you should identify how it affects you.
5. State your opinion in a respectful manner
If you want your opinion to be heard you need to state in in a respectful manner. If you include statements which sound inflammatory or emotionally overwrought your letter will likely receive less consideration.
6. Make your request
The tone should be courteous and respectful at all times. You may want to include reference to the official role played by the person you are writing to e.g. “I urge you, in your role as Minister of ___________, to take action.”
7. Courteously request a response
If you request a response your letter then it requires an action of the government official beyond just reading and filing it away.
8. Send a hard copy and keep one for yourself
If you send your letter by e-mail, also send a hard copy and keep a copy of your letter and any replies you receive for your records.
NOTE: Any letter that includes FMCBC letterhead or is signed on behalf of the FMCBC needs approval from both the FMCBC’s President or Executive Director and the appropriate Committee Chair. It is also recommended that FMCBC letters be circulated to at least three knowledgeable people before they are sent.