Raise Your Political Voice – Tips from FOCA

There is strength in numbers – let’s be heard.

FOCA encourages all waterfront property owners to let your elected officials know about the issues that matter most to you and your lake (or river!)

Who handles what?

The Federal government deals with national issues affecting our members, including navigation/boating, fisheries, and Great Lakes/international issues, among others. Ontario has 121 of Canada’s 338 federal electoral ridings, and thus has a fair amount of clout regarding national policy.

Find your federal Member of Parliament using your Postal Code on the Parliament of Canada – House of Commons website.

For waterfront property owners, the bulk of our issues are managed at the Provincial level, including health care, education, property taxation, tourism,  natural resources management, energy policy, through Provincial statute, and the accompanying regulations.

Find your current MPP’s contact information on the Legislative Assembly of Ontario website.

The Municipal level of government is where many cottage issues are most directly managed: roads, policing, land use planning, bylaw development and enforcement. However, municipalities are also a creature of the Province, owing their very existence, their powers and obligations to the Province under the Municipal Act.

Find your Ontario Municipality links by region, county or district.

FOCA’s work

FOCA represents waterfront property owners’ interests, and acts as a conduit on many important public policy issues that affect waterfront environments.

FOCA is non-partisan; there are rarely straightforward answers that satisfy all interests at all times. We work collaboratively with government and other groups to advance waterfront issues where there is a common perspective or interest to defend.

FOCA’s Mission is: To protect thriving and sustainable waterfronts across Ontario.

FOCA participates in many provincial, regional and municipal working groups, and works with other groups, scientists, and our members to represent waterfront property owners’ interests in emerging and ongoing issues. Cottaging is an iconic and well-loved part of our cultural fabric. We are working to preserve a way of life, and a quality of living for our kids and grandkids.

Find out more about FOCA’s work.

Get more information about the various levels of government, and their roles, here: Municipal 101 from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario

What you can do, to effectively deliver your message to elected officials:

1)    Write a letter to your municipal councillor, MPP, MP or political candidates
2)    Call their office, and ask them specifically what they propose to do about your issue or situation
3)    Schedule a visit with your elected official or candidates, attend their events or invite them to attend yours. Introduce yourself if there is a meet-and-greet and follow the tips below
4)    Encourage your neighbours to do the same
5)    Support FOCA’s advocacy efforts through membership and/or donations, and get on the Elert list to be kept up-to-date about emerging issues and new calls  to action!

Politicians want to be associated with issues that will get them (re-)elected and will show that they have done a good job. They won’t know how constituents really feel unless we communicate with them. Each comment received directly from a voter carries weight, as it suggests broader trends. It is part of an elected official’s responsibility to study all available information on a topic. But don’t waste their time; know your issue and be brief. Provide facts and suggest solutions.

Tips to get your issue onto your candidates’ radar:
  • Identify yourself as a constituent of their riding
  • Give a short explanation of how the issue affects you personally, and whether you support or oppose it
  • Use facts and figures to support your argument
  • Be concise and stick to the issue if you want to express your opinion or ask for their stance on an issue
  • Hand them a 1-page brief on the issue to take away and reference in the future
  • Thank them for their time, and remind them you will be discussing the matter with your neighbours, and voting to support the issue at hand
  • Mention specifically if you want a written response, then follow up with their office staff in two weeks if there has been no reply
Michelle LewinRaise Your Political Voice – Tips from FOCA