By Don Hutchinson
Summer is barbecue (BBQ) season in Canada. Not just for you, your family & friends, but for Members of Parliament. Our kids take the summer off from homework. However, from the last week of June until the third week in September MPs leave Parliament – and they take their work home!
So, what does that mean for you? BBQ season gives you the opportunity for some one on one conversation with your elected representative. MPs will be in their ridings promoting the accomplishments and future plans of their parties while attending or hosting community events. You can attend, too! You can thank them for their service and accomplishments in Ottawa AND tell them what you think some of their future plans and priorities should look like (please, be polite in the process).
“How do I do that?” you might ask. “I’m just a normal person and he/she is a Member of Parliament.” They serve in the House of Commons for a reason. Not only do MPs represent “the common people,” they happen to be people just like you and me. The biggest difference between them and us is the effort they put in to being elected and the effort they make to keep that place of “our confidence.”
So, don’t just show up for some free food. Prepare in advance. What do you think is important? If you’re looking for ideas, the EFC’s website (under social issues) and recent blogs on ActivateCFPL might be helpful.
It would be great if you gave your MP a big “thank you” for the new National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking; a comprehensive plan that is designed to get police services, border security and charitable organizations working together in Canada and outside our borders to fight this modern day slavery that has been evidenced in Canada in the sex for sale industry, forced labour (like the recently broken up construction ring in Southern Ontario and domestic home workers brought illegally from other countries), and forced marriages.
It would also be great if you let your MP know that you will be watching to see their vote for MP Stephen Woodworth’s motion M-312, the motion to establish a parliamentary committee to study when a child should be considered to be a human being under Canada’s Criminal Code. Currently, a child is not considered a human being – protected by the Criminal Code – until the child has fully emerged from his or her mother’s body.
Call your MP’s office to ask when an event like a BBQ will be taking place, then mark it on your calendar as a special event that you plan to attend. Talk to your family and friends to encourage them to consider the issues and prepare to strike up a conversation over a hotdog or burger and a pop. While you’re at it, how about the BBQ hosted by your Mayor or City Councillor? Member of the Provincial Legislature? Not many people study the issues (or even just one or two) so your interest will translate into influence. And you might just change the course of government in your hometown, province or nation.
After the BBQ’s done, you can follow up by phone, email or letter. You can also continue to develop the relationship of encouragement and opinion. And, remember to pray for our elected officials. The prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective! (James 5:16)