|literacy.ca||Volume 5, No. 2, Winter 2003|
The constant pace and tremendous demands of political life mean that most politicians are knowledgeable about many things and experts in few. Thats why they rely on the input of trusted sources and constituents to make informed decisions. By cultivating an active relationship with your political representatives you will become one of those trusted and credible sources that they turn to for advice and information.
Politicians want to hear from you
This is especially true if you live in the politicians community. Staying in tune with the realities of their communities is the political life-blood of politicians. They depend on voters who stay informed and stay in touch during elections and between elections. Whether your name is attached to phone messages, correspondence, or invitations if you live in a politicians community, your name will move quickly to the top of priority lists.
The same principles hold true at both the provincial and national level. When it comes to directing literacy policy or setting funding levels, politicians and government officials in their departments need to talk to teachers, administrators, tutors, academics and learners, not only to determine the needs and ground their policies in reality, but also because it lends credibility to the process. Bad policy only wastes resources and alienates voters.
Knowledge, passion and commitment are the keys to making a difference
After working on Parliament Hill and in politics for many years, Ive seen first hand how ordinary Canadians can make a difference. Strategies such as letter-writing campaigns, media tactics, one-to-one meetings, feeding into policy debates, coalition building, lobbying in your provincial/territorial capital or on Parliament Hill, can all be productive and creative tools for influencing change. There is no single blue print for action that leads to success. However, successful campaigns for change and the people who participate in them are:
Recently the federal government has shown an increasing awareness about the importance of literacy to the future of Canada. This presents us with an exciting and important opportunity to help pave the way for meaningful development on a national literacy strategy.
Since you are closest to your provincial/territorial governments, you may think that lobbying the federal government is a waste of time. This is not true. Adult literacy services are delivered and funded through a complicated web of provincial/territorial and federal mechanisms. Provinces take the lead in direct funding and delivery, but the federal government also plays an important role in developing policy directions and funding the National Literacy Secretariat (NLS) and other literacy initiatives. (next page...)
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