It’s finally summer again, the time of the year when people try to spend a bit of time on things they like to do – like taking a vacation – and not just on those normal, everyday things that need to be done – like going to work and doing the daily chores.
Well, stuck between those two alternatives are those things that we don’t normally do, but which we don’t necessarily like to do either – like visiting our members of Parliament, or giving them a call, to remind them about the important issues they should be addressing in the House of Commons when they return in the fall.
If it takes you longer than half a second to think of something you’d rather do than make your MP accountable, then you probably live a really boring life – either that or your MP is pro-life and you get along with him or her very well. But even though catching up with your federal legislator is not the most exciting item on your “to do” list, it is very important.
We talk about the need for a grassroots movement to be built up across the country in order to generate the momentum necessary to pressure politicians into action on abortion, but then I think that some people believe that all they have to do is send their money to a central office in Ottawa or Toronto where people will be hired to do the work.
Do you see the contradiction? A grassroots movement, by its very nature, is a highly decentralized operation, not something that can be run from one central federal or provincial office. All pro-lifers are needed in this battle. We need people in every riding who are willing to make sure that their MP knows how he or she should vote on all life-related bills, and that there is never an excuse for not knowing about pro-life activities that should be attended.
Lobbying MPs in Ottawa is never – I repeat, never – as effective as making them accountable in their own ridings. We in Ottawa don’t have the power to vote them in or out of office so we don’t carry the same weight. Sure we can pass our information on to people in their riding, but they know that the personal contact with their constituents, for good or ill, has a much greater impact on the people and is, therefore, much more important.
If you don’t want to go to your member of Parliament, why don’t you invite him or her over to your place? If you are involved in organizing any activities this summer, whether they are community events for your neighbourhood or activities related to a group you belong to, why don’t you plan to invite your MP as a guest to the event?
If your MP has stereotypes about pro-lifers – bug-eyed individuals who spend four hours a day shouting at women who enter abortuaries, eight hours at the target range, another eight hours at church and four hours sleeping (in a standing position because we are paranoid about being taken by surprise by government forces) – then neighbourhood barbecues and summer sports activities can be a great opportunity to break down some of those silly notions.
If the event includes contests where prizes are given out, the MP should be given the privilege of handing out the awards, and at other events the MP should be given an introduction. The MP’s presence should not be treated as accidental or casual, because it isn’t. But, at the same time, the activities don’t have to revolve around the member of Parliament, who probably doesn’t want to feel like being on the hot seat the whole time at a summer event.