Civic Engagement as a Professional

As a professional, you might sometimes find that your needs and interests are not being heard by your representatives or the public service. With your career and lifestyle, sometimes you do not get the chance to partake within the political process besides the occasional time when it comes to vote and by that time it feels as though no candidate speaks to you.

As a professional with limited time, how can you make that your voice is heard or make sure that the issues that are important to you are taken seriously by our elected officials are the public service staff.

  1. First find out what is important to you and be able to articulate it clearly.
    Are you passionate about employment opportunities within your place of living, or adequate modes of transportation being served within your area, or poverty issues, etc.Research your topic, find out if there are already existing organizations that service your issue. How many residents does it impact, what are the consequences of inaction? What are the benefits of? What are your asks? Is it short term or long term? Why is this an issue and why should people pay attention to it.The issue can be as small as getting pot holes fixed along the road you use to get to work to as big as adopting a new way of counting ballot for elections.
  2. Learn how decisions are being made within your municipality, province and country.
    Most public services have front facing staff that handle general inquiries and be able to point you in the right direction. Learn how budgets are made, who makes key critical decisions on what get built and when. For example, in Toronto issues such as general infrastructure related items such as road maintenance, water mains or maintenance and development of parks are the responsibility of the Municipality. Issues related to health Care, hydro/electrical infrastructure, education are the responsibility of the Province.Find out who is responsible is for what, will save a lot of time, and allow you to focus your efforts on communicating with the right individuals to making sure that the people that hear you are the people that can make the impact that you are looking for.
  3. Meet with your Councillor/MPP/MP political representatives
    Which bring us to your local representatives. The representatives that you elect, have the obligation to take care of the needs of their constitutes. Once you have identified with an important issue and have done research to be able to articulate why it is important, reach out to your representatives and explain the issue to them. Representatives are there to make sure the government/public service is doing its job for its constituents.
  4. Join an association, maybe even a professional one.
    You do not have to do this alone, and the more #s that you have, the more attention you will gather to your issue, the more that people will hear you. Most of the time there are local groups such as ratepayers, homeowners association, for local issues, or commerce, and professional associations for more economic related issues. Search online, reach out to friends, family and your representatives and you will be able to find people who will share your opinion and want to take action.Civic engagement can seem like an activity that unnecessary for a professional and something that is not worth their time. However, the price of inaction is that issues that pertain to you become lost to the opinions by others who generally do not want what is best for everyone. Speak up and just as you have to work for your career and family, work for your city/province/state/country.

“Politics ought to be the part time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free [people].”

Written By Daran Somas

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