Someone writing a letter

CPAWS Southern Alberta Blog

How to Write a Letter to Your MLA

Letter-writing is an effective tool for sharing your voice.

Writing a letter gives you the opportunity to take political action and be heard. You don’t need to be an expert to communicate with your politicians regarding issues you are passionate about. The biggest single impact from a letter is that you have taken the time to send it.

The fact that one citizen has put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, on a given issue creates a far greater impression than the details of the letter itself. To a politician or party, a letter from one person is reportedly taken to speak for a hundred other citizens who share the point of view but did not write.

Be sure to also check out our toolkit for contacting your MLA for resources, example letters, videos, and more tips!  Learn more.

Check out our top tips below for writing your MLA:

Be sure to also check out our toolkit for contacting your MLA for resources, example letters, videos, and more tips!  Learn more.

  • Be respectful. Politicians are more likely to listen to your point if it is not accompanied by abuse.
  • Make it personal. Tell them something about yourself. A simple phrase such as “I have spent the last ___ years hiking and camping in the Spray Valley” creates a mental image which brings you and your point alive and off the paper. If you are a constituent of theirs, say so.
  • Be concise. Write on only one issue at a time. Clearly state your point early on in the letter. Try to keep the letter to one page.
  • Write to the right person. Consider whether the issue is a federal or provincial one. Consider which cabinet minister is responsible for the issue. Use the following tools to determine who you need to write to and contact us if you are unsure.
  • Be clear. Start with a clear statement of purpose about a particular action. For example: “I am writing to express my concern about retirement security for Canadians. I ask that you support a move to double the Canada Pension Plan.” Repeat this request in the last paragraph.  A request such as “please pass legislation immediately which will keep oil wells out of our parks” has much more authority and is a better guide to action than “Please bear in mind the potential conflict between resource and natural values.”
  • Big picture. Aim for public interest. Explain why you think your request will benefit the public as a whole, not simply you and your friends.
  • Fact check. You don’t have to have all the facts (much less recite them all), but the ones you put in your letter must be correct. Don’t let the fact that you are not an expert prevent you from voicing your opinion, however.
  • Simple is best. Relax and express yourself naturally. Remember that this is you expressing what’s on your mind. You don’t have to sound like Churchill or Lincoln. Use plain, simple language. It is not a competition to see how many long words you can include. It’s much better to write simply in order to avoid any confusion or miscommunication.
  • In closing. The best closing sentence sounds something like: “I look forward to receiving your response.” or, “I look forward to hearing how your office/party/ministry is planning on tackling this issue and am eagerly awaiting your response”
  • CC: Consider if you should send a copy of the letter to anyone else. Your local representative should always receive a copy of a letter you send to the PM, Premier, or any cabinet minister. Also, are there other ministers whose portfolio bears upon the issue you are writing about? Of course, we at CPAWS are always happy to receive copies of letters which you send to elected officials.

Follow up:

After you send your letter, you can also call the office and discuss some of the points in your letter. Be cordial and polite. “Just calling to follow up on my letter sent ______. I am hoping the minister understands the importance of ______ and will do ______. Thanks.”

Also follow up when/if action is taken either way. This could include messages such as “I am disappointed by…because…” or “Thanks so much for…”

Now that you have these tools, raise your voice. Let your elected officials know what is important to you, and why.

Head over to our toolkit for contacting your MLA for more resources.