Reluctant Advocates: Meeting your MLA

Reluctant Advocates: Meeting your MLA

Emily Robinson Leclair, Community Learning Network

2 0 20 February 2024

Last year, the CALP Portal brought you two blog posts dedicated to the topic of Advocacy: Advocacy 101 and Advocating Literacy. This year, we hope this series of posts titled "Reluctant Advocates" will help propel the suggestion of advocacy into actionable ideas.

re·luc·tant ad·vo·cate(s): an individual or group of individuals who understand there is a need for more information and attention on a topic or issue but are hesitant to get involved for fear that they might not ‘do it right'

Meeting your MLA

This might seem like a big leap to start with, but engaging your MLA leverages what Community Adult Learnings Programs do so very well – building relationships, finding connections, and playing the long game! 

Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) are a great place to take your advocacy for several reasons:

  1. As elected officials, representing the constituents of Alberta is their job. A constituent is a fancy word for "person who lives in a region, especially someone who is able to vote in an election."
  2. Like Community Adult Learning Programs, they can be found all over Alberta (Fun Fact: MLAs represent Albertans from 87 constituencies across the province).
  3. They want to talk with you. When they aren’t sitting in the Legislative Assembly, in Edmonton, MLAs are expected to engage with the Albertans living in their region. Attending community events and connecting with constituents is an important part of their role.
  4. It is the job of your MLA to advocate for YOU on provincial issues!

Request a meeting

To begin, you will want to reach out to your MLA in order to introduce yourself and request a meeting.

As elected officials, MLAs are easy to find. Use your postal code to search for your MLA:

  • Request a meeting by telephone or better yet, pop into their Constituency Office.
  • Explain that you are interested in scheduling a meeting with the MLA directly (as opposed to a staff member).
  • Expect to be given a 30-minute time slot. 

Congratulations! You have completed the first step and are well on your way to meeting with your MLA!

Plan your meeting

Bring a friend! Remember that Members of the Legislative Assembly represent all Albertans in their region and are eager to reach more voters or potential voters. This list could include:

  • Members of your board and organization
  • Adult Albertans who directly benefit from your program
  • Other Community Adult Learning Program(s) in the constituency (also known as electoral division - you can find the maps here

Once you’ve decided who to bring, work together to decide what you’d like to talk about with your MLA before you attend the meeting. Literacy and foundational literacy intersect any number of issues, so it is helpful to decide where you’d like to start. Possible suggestions include:

  • What matters to your community
  • What matters to your MLA
  • What matters to our current government

Your meeting with your MLA should include strong voices of support, stories of impact and concrete examples. 

Here is a great example of how the Community Adult Learning Programs in the Livingstone-Macleod region collaborated to talk to their MLA:

End your meeting

At the end of this meeting, your MLA should be eager to learn more about Community Adult Learning Programs. You might want to leave them with your contact information and a simple fact sheet that includes your talking points.

Thank your MLA for their time, and find a reason to continue the conversation. It is very helpful to conclude your meeting with an ask:

  • Take a picture (and post to social media and the CALP Portal!)
  • Invite your MLA to attend an upcoming event or learning opportunity
  • Encourage your MLA to share the impact of Community Adult Learning Programs with other members of the legislature
  • Schedule a follow up meeting

The possibilities are limitless! While we have talked today about engaging your MLA, I would encourage you to consider who else in your community you might also invite to an advocacy meeting.  

Emily Robinson Leclair (she/her)
Regional Support Staff | South 


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