How to Write an Effective Letter
Writing Letters To Elected Representatives
A well-written letter can bring attention to a problem or influence public policy. The more elected representatives hear about an issue from their constituents, the more likely they are to respond by taking action. Government officials assume that for every person who writes to them about a particular issue, there are many others who share the same concern. You do not have to be an expert on the issue addressed in your letter - remember that you may still know more about it than the responsible government official does.
- Send your letter to the government officials responsible for the issue you are addressing and a copy to your own elected representative at the same level of government (municipal, provincial or federal).
- Keep your letter short - about one page - and focus on one issue per letter. State your main point in the first sentence.
- Use point form/bullets to highlight your arguments.
- Include supporting facts and details to back up your case.
- Explain how the policy issue affects you personally.
- Ask the MP/MLA to do something specific in response.
- Sign your letter personally.
- Ask for a reply.
- Hand-written or personalized and printed letters stand out from the hundreds of emails received by ministers daily.
- Be polite; impolite letters are less likely to be read or responded to.
Writing Letters To Local And National Newspapers
Writing letters to newspapers is extremely helpful. Newspaper editors, like politicians, need to know what people are thinking about regarding the issues facing Canada's Pacific coast. The editorial section is often the first page politicians turn to.
Keep your letter short and to the point – less than 150 words is preferable. Your letter should carry its most important message in the first few sentences. Make your letter timely – if you have just returned from a trip to the Great Bear Rainforest or if it is a reaction to a previous story in the paper. Include contact information so that you can be reached during the day and the evening. Don’t be afraid to tell readers what you want them to do - this is your chance to speak your mind.