Ministers and officials working in their government departments (the Executive branch of government) have power and influence over what issues make it onto the law reform agenda. Learning how to engage with Ministers and government officials: deciding who you should meet with, setting up meetings, planning what to say, and following-up, are an essential means of advancing feminist law reform. Even brief in-person meetings, where you have the full attention of the official you are speaking to, can be extremely effective.
This module will unpack some of the differences between Ministers and their departmental versus political staff. Understanding these differences is the first step to strategizing to engage with lawmakers. This module also offers practical tips for effectively communicating the issues you care about.
What is the Privy Council Office?
The role of the Privy Council Office is to support the Prime Minister and the Cabinet in achieving their vision, goals and decisions and to ensure that the Prime Minister and Cabinet receive effective support from the public service. The Privy Council Office can be an effective tool for feminist law reform since it advises the Prime Minister and Cabinet on non-partisan public policy. The Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet is the head of the public service and supports the Prime Minister in carrying out their duties as head of government.
To learn more.
What is the Prime Minister’s Office?
The Prime Minister's Office is a partisan body made up of political staff. There is no statutory authority establishing the PMO. The role of PMO is to support the Prime Minister in carrying out his or her various functions as leader of a political party and as a Member of Parliament. Important duties of the PMO include advising the Prime Minister on policy development, writing speeches, facilitating interactions between PM and Cabinet, setting the Prime Minister's schedule, organizing the Prime Minister’s public statements and relations with the media.
To learn more.
Finding the Right Person
The Government Electronic Directory Services (GEDS) provides a directory of public servants across Canada as well as the contact information for Ministers and their staff. The directory information is supplied by individual federal government departments and agencies, some of which do not provide all their staff information.
If you are working on a particular issue but do not know the best individual to reach, you can search by department and then select the most relevant branch. Keep drilling down and you will eventually see the names of staff members, their phone numbers, and titles. Following the Minister and Deputy Minister, Assistant Deputy Ministers (ADMs) are the most senior executives, followed by Director Generals (DGs), and finally Directors.
Examples of letters sent to Ministers and other government officials
Letter to the Prime Minister from women’s rights and equality seeking groups on feminist policy making in the context of COVID-19
Canada must protect the rights of sex workers during COVID-19 by ensuring access to emergency income supports
Engage & Discuss
In what situations do you think it might be strategic to meet with a Minister or a departmental official, as opposed to an MP or a Senator?
When might it be more strategic to meet with a Minister’s political staff?
Which ministers might be the most useful for you or your organization to engage with?
Construct a short, mock agenda for a 10-minute meeting with a Minister or government official. Role-play your greetings and opening statements with a classmate, colleague or friend.