Act Now or Lose your Sport - How to Meet with your MP
Bill C-21 has moved to committee, where 12 MPs from the various parties will make changes to it before it becomes law. The only hope to preserve our sport is to ensure these 12 MPs approve an amendment to keep airsoft alive. We've prepared this article (which we'll continue to update!) with a strategy for you to get this message to your MP.
Before You Do Anything
It's critical that you remember to present yourself as a professional and responsible individual. No matter how much you may be disappointed in the way the parties have treated us or our sport.
To do that, ensure you are:
Reasonable - No personal or political attacks. Don’t bring other political issues into this.
Rational - Use clear chains of logic backed by facts. Don’t embellish or appeal to emotion.
Relatable - Make it difficult for the MP to ignore your humanity and the diversity of our community.
DO NOT BE RUDE OR AGGRESSIVE WITH YOUR MP. CONTROL YOUR EMOTIONS. If you contact your MP and you behave any way other than professional, you are giving them an excuse not to talk to you, and it is an excuse they will use. You will paint a picture of all airsofters as rude and aggressive, which will make it difficult to get their attention, as they will think our community is a ‘lost cause.’
Here are your steps to make an impact with your MP!
Learn about your MP - Do your homework!
Request a meeting - Includes a form letter
Applying pressure - Social media matters
Escalation - Becoming annoying
Refusal to meet - Volunteering to support other parties
1) Learn about Your Member of Parliament
If you want to make a compelling argument to save our sport, you'll need to know WHO to talk to, and WHAT they care about. Many MPs have issues they care about, and how they want the public to perceive them. If you understand that, you can make a compelling argument for our sport.
Find your MP - Go to https://www.ourcommons.ca/Members/en and enter your postal code. It will tell you who your MP is. Also take note of the riding you're in
Google your MP and visit their website. Grab the links to their social media and read about them. See what they care about. Take a few notes of how these things relate to airsoft and our community.
Examples of how your MPs interests can be used as compelling arguments for our sport:
Does your MP care about new Canadians? Many new Canadians find community and business opportunities within our sport.
Does your MP care about law enforcement and military veterans? You know many of those people find our sport a great way to decompress and relieve stress.
By the end of this step you have:
The name of your MP
The name of your riding
Links to the MPs website, their social media, and what they care about
Arguments that you can make to save our sport that relate to their interests
2) First Contact with Your MP
The first contact you should make with your MP is to call their office and ask for a meeting. We know a phone call is annoying, but it's hard for your MP to ignore. Ideally, you want to KNOW you're being heard, and not filtered to a spam mailbox.
When you call, they will want to know:
That you live in the riding
What you want to talk about.
In all likelihood they will give you an email address to send a letter to asking for a meeting. This allows them to keep things organised, but it also adds an extra step to contact them, which can dissuade people from requesting a meeting.
Luckily, it also gives you another chance to make your voice heard!
If they have requested an email you will want it to be short, to the point and contain specific information. Professionalism is important. If they know you can communicate well, they know you'll be convincing to the media or other constituents you talk to. If you communicate well, they'll want you on their side.
Below is an example of a request for a meeting. Don't copy it word for word, so ensure you include additional reasons you'd like to speak about airsoft.
[MP Name] I'm a constituent in [MP name]'s riding of [RIDING NAME] writing about Bill C-21. I have been an airsoft player for [X] years, having invested [$X] into equipment and supplies, spending about [$X] in the local economy when I attend games and events. My [romantic partner/children/parents/high school friends, etc.] enjoy this game with me. [Write 1-2 sentences about why you love airsoft or an example of how harmless it is.] Bill C-21 is heading to committee at the SECU and contains language that will have significant negative impacts on my sport if it passes into law both by design and by accident. I have no doubt it will destroy the industry that services the hobby and community of players in Canada entirely. In addition to myself, I know many other hobbyists/players in this riding as well as business such as [LIST AIRSOFT AND RELATED BUSINESSES THAT YOU SHOP AT, ESPECIALLY THOSE IN YOUR RIDING]. As a constituent, I would be appreciative of a meeting with [MP name] to discuss this bill and its impacts on myself and other constituents. Here are some points I would like to discuss with [MP NAME] so that he can be briefed before our call/meeting:
Banning Airsoft blasters will not meaningfully improve public safety or prevent related harm.
The Airsoft community and industry were not consulted last year prior to drafting Bill C21 and still have not been consulted up to now. There are many subject matter experts in the community who have expert experience with both Airsoft and public safety (many of them being law enforcement officers).
I will also ask that [MP Name] draft a letter Marco Mendocino, the Public Safety Minister and CC to David Lametti, the Minister of Justice and the members of the SECU from your party that will ask:
That the portions that affect airsoft be removed from Bill C21 until consultation with the Airsoft community’s Subject Matter Experts can be properly conducted
That legitimate consultation with the airsoft community and industry occur before any future legislation is tabled that would impact it.
Airsoft players are very passionate and both financially and emotionally invested to the point that I believe this would motivate most to become single-issue voters. If Bill C21 proceeds as it is currently written, it will have an impact not just on who I will vote for in the next election. It will also result in my choosing to volunteer and recruit other volunteers in your riding for whichever party decides to support airsoft. Sincerely [ Insert your name here ] [ Insert your address here ] [ Insert your email here ] [ Insert your phone number here ]
3) APPLYING PRESSURE
Hopefully your letter is enough to get you a meeting with your MP, but it may not be. MPs are busy and have many priorities. It's time to bring our community to bare. The diversity and size of our sport has always been a strength and here is an area where it shines.
It's important to remember that MPs are politicians, and their job relies on how the public perceives them. Modern politicians are very dependent on social media to accomplish this and we are going to engage with that dependence.
We want to maintain a friendly and low key tone. Find a social media post that is ideally related in some way to airsoft and leave a comment about how you are looking forward to talking to them about your sport. Share the link to your comment with friends and and our community. Tell them to like your comment so that it stands out. This should not be difficult. Even very active ridings usually only get a couple dozen likes/engagement on their posts. A sudden interest on a certain topic gets the attention of MPs and their staffers.
This serves a few purposes.
First, it is a gentle reminder that you are waiting on their response to schedule a meeting. Second, it tells them that you're prepared to go further to achieve that, including engaging with them publicly on social media. Third, you are starting to put them in a position where it will look like they aren't actually interested in engaging with and supporting their constituents if they don’t meet with you.
This last point is very important because you are beginning to affect how people perceive them.
Follow Up Emails
MPs are busy, but a large part of their job is to talk to their constituents. So you should expect a response to your email request for a meeting. Wait no more than a week before sending a follow-up email.
Here is an example. Please feel free to rewrite it in your own friendly tone:
Hello [Insert MP Name Here] I am writing to follow up on my letter of, [Insert date of original email here]. I appreciate that being an MP is a very busy job. I am obviously very concerned about the matter that I would like to meet with you about. I'm hoping I will hear from you soon with a date when we can meet to discuss it. Sincerely [Insert your name here]
It is likely that you will get a response to this request. However if you don't, you may need to increase the pressure.
Using your own Social Media
If your social media account is public, the next thing you can do is create posts on your own social media talking about your desire to have a meeting with your MP and why. You can then tag them in that post. If possible you can use some of the hashtags they use and you can tag it to the riding they are in. This is a powerful tool, because in some cases, you may have more followers than the politician!
Here is an example of this:
It's worth asking as many of your friends to comment on posts like this as possible. Numbers matter to politicians.
If your MP isn't responding you will have to both be persistent and you will have to escalate. Keep sending emails requesting a meeting and show them you won't be put off. The bigger escalation is to take it to their social media.
At all times you must remember the 3 Rs while you become a persistent nuisance. Be a gentle annoyance, like a mosquito in their tent. Stand out from the crowd, and don't let them forget about you or airsoft. Under no circumstance should you be rude, aggressive, or dismissive.
Start going to their social media, ideally on multiple platforms, and start leaving comments talking about your desire to meet with them, and their lack of response.
Hi [Insert MP name here] I've sent a number of emails to you requesting a meeting regarding proposed legislation that I am concerned about. I haven't had a response and the time is growing short before said legislation will be debated in committee. I'm sure, as an MP, you are interested in discussing your constituents' concerns and it is just an oversight that you haven't responded to my request yet. Have you given up on speaking with me about this issue? I look forward to hearing from you shortly.
Another approach is to look for groups for your community on Facebook and make a post in there talking about the difficulty you are having getting a meeting. No politician wants to be seen to be ignoring or dodging their constituents. So posts like this will hit a soft spot.
5) Refusal to Meet
You may find that your MP will not meet with you. This may not come as a direct no. It might be an offer to have their staff meet with you. If that happens, be persistent that you want to meet with your MP directly. Remember, they work for you. Don't back down.
If you do encounter an actual refusal, the tactics are the same as you would follow if you aren't getting a response. You want to take their social media and post about it. You will want to add something new though.
It seems to me that you aren't really willing to do the work of an MP and as such not only will I not be voting for you in the next election, but I am going to organise my team/friends/family/community to campaign for your nearest opponent.
You would be surprised how few volunteers most MPs have during an election. They will absolutely not want to create a situation where someone has decided to help organise against them. An apathetic voter is ok, but an active opposition is terrifying.
Some of the next steps you can take involve getting connected with a local airsoft association (Like ASIC, the AABC, or the FSAQ) because if our sport does lose this vote, it will fall to us to organize election actions to vote in a party that supports our goals!
In closing, at all times remember the 3 Rs, but also be persistent and be creative. You have the ability to affect change if you put the work in.