Part of the Stop Posting, Start Acting article series.
Contacting your Member of Parliament can be an important action in any advocacy effort; but knowing who they are and what the limits of their roles are is also important.
The Government of Canada is administered by elected Members of Parliament – 338 individuals representing ridings across the nation. These members can belong to a variety of political parties; however, their duty is to represent the constituents – or residents – of their specific riding, regardless of political affiliation.
Members of Parliament can be appointed to Ministerial roles; that is, made the manager of significant political portfolios. Positions you’ve likely heard of include Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MP Jonathan Wilkinson), Ministry of Health (MP Patty Hajdu) or Ministry of Finance (MP Chrystia Freeland after MP Bill Morneau’s resignation). Some Members of Parliament become deputy ministers or parliamentary assistants, giving them responsibility and access to specific political portfolios.
Opposition and other elected party members may be appointed to counter positions of these Ministries, a common practice in this form of democracy.
All this considered, finding who to contact for what issues can still be confusing.
Finding My MP
When advocating on federal issues, contacting your own MP is a great place to start; part of their job is managing constituency issues, but they are, after all, also hoping to get your vote (and possibly donations).
The fastest way to find your MP? Use the “Find my MP” website created by the House of Commons. Simply click here (or copy/paste https://www.ourcommons.ca/members/en into your web browser) and input your postal code, riding name or name of your Member of Parliament. If you need help finding any of these you can:
Use Canada Post to find your postal code: https://www.canadapost.ca/cpo/mc/personal/postalcode/fpc.jsf
Use Elections Canada to find your riding or more detailed voting information:https://www.elections.ca/scripts/vis/FindED?L=e&PAGEID=20
What can an MP do?
A Member of Parliament and their staff can be your best bet at navigating complex bureaucracy, taking specific issues to ministerial staff or committees, locate grants or programs, and help guide you through the House of Commons petition process or other advocacy efforts.
Many environmental issues are touched by the federal government, though wildlife and related policy are frequently managed at the provincial/territorial level.
For example, while Canada is a signatory to the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (the trade document inaccurately heralded by the fur industry and government as proof that trapping is humane) but trapping and trapping policy is implemented at the provincial level.
Have more questions? You can always ask us, or, now that you know how, your local MP!