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Activist Toolkit for Accountability includes, Ombudsman Petition, How-To Guides, Ontario’s MPP Information, Signs, Conduct, Media, Letters and Email Campaigns.

Ontario MPP’s Supporting Ombudsman Oversight

Queens Park, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Queens Park, Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Below is a list of MPP’s who have confirmed with us they’re supporting our calls for accountability of Ontario’s Long-Term Care Homes (LTC), Hospitals, Children’s Aid Societies (CAS), School Boards, Universities, Police and will vote to allow the Ombudsman to investigate these institutions.

If your MPP is not listed below,  they need to be contacted immediately.  If you are an MPP or you’ve spoken to your MPP, please contact us.



MPP’s who support expanding the Ombudsman mandate.



Mantha,   Michael  Algoma–Manitoulin NDP
Jackson, Rod Barrie PC
Prue,   Michael  Beaches–East York NDP
Singh,   Jagmeet  Bramalea–Gore–Malton NDP
Walker, Bill Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound PC
McKenna, Jane Burlington PC
MacLaren,   Jack  Carleton–Mississippi Mills PC
Leone, Rob Cambridge PC
Nicholls, Rick Chatham–Kent–Essex PC
Schein,   Jonah  Davenport NDP
Jones, Sylvia Dufferin–Caledon PC
O’Toole, John Durham PC
Yurek, Jeff Elgin–Middlesex–London PC
Natyshak,   Taras  Essex NDP
Cansfield, Donna H. Etobicoke Centre Liberal
Doug Holyday Etobicoke-Lakeshore PC
Barrett, Toby Haldimand–Norfolk PC
Scott, Laurie Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock PC
Chudleigh, Ted Halton PC
Horwath,   Andrea  Hamilton Centre NDP
Miller,   Paul  Hamilton East–Stoney Creek NDP
Taylor,   Monique  Hamilton Mountain NDP
Thompson, Lisa M. Huron–Bruce PC
Campbell,   Sarah  Kenora–Rainy River NDP
Harris,   Michael  Kitchener–Conestoga PC
Fief, Catherine Kitchener-Waterloo NDP
McNaughton, Monte Lambton–Kent–Middlesex PC
Hillier, Randy Lanark–Frontenac–Lennox and Addington PC
Armstrong, Teresa J. London–Fanshawe NDP
Sattler, Peggy  London–West NDP
MacLeod, Lisa Nepean–Carleton PC
Klees,   Frank  Newmarket–Aurora PC
Gates, Wayne Niagara NDP
Hudak, Tim Niagara West–Glanbrook PC
Gélinas,   France  Nickel Belt NDP
Fedeli, Victor Nipissing PC
Milligan,   Rob E.  Northumberland–Quinte West PC
Clark, Steve Leeds–Grenville PC
Ouellette, Jerry J. Oshawa PC
Hardeman, Ernie Oxford PC
DiNovo,   Cheri  Parkdale–High Park NDP
Miller,   Norm  Parry Sound–Muskoka PC
Pettapiece, Randy Perth–Wellington PC
Smith, Todd Prince Edward–Hastings PC
Yakabuski, John Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke PC
Bailey, Robert Sarnia–Lambton PC
Dunlop, Garfield Simcoe North PC
Wilson, Jim Simcoe–Grey PC
McDonell, Jim Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry PC
Vanthof,   John  Timiskaming–Cochrane NDP
Bisson,   Gilles  Timmins–James Bay NDP
Martow, Gila Thornhill NDP
Tabuns,   Peter  Toronto–Danforth NDP
Marchese,   Rosario  Trinity–Spadina NDP
Arnott, Ted Wellington–Halton Hills PC
Elliott, Christine Whitby–Oshawa PC
Forster,   Cindy  Welland NDP
Hatfield, Percy Windsor-Tecumseh NDP
Munro, Julia York–Simcoe PC


MPP’s Preventing Ombudsman Oversight

Effective Campaigns & Events Organizing

Getting Things Done: Effective Campaigns & Events Organizing

Strength In Numbers

No individual has the resources or political clout to effectively influence MUSH  Sector policies across Ontario on their own. At best, an individual or local group could have an impact on a few electoral ridings. Governments ignore groups that pose no political threat to them. It is much more effective for a large numbers to pool their resources and to work in partnership than for each person to undertake this work on their own.


When we act as individuals, our actions may seem small and insignificant. When we act collectively, anything is possible. That is why “strength in numbers” has become such an important principle of our movement. Whether it is informing the general public through protests, pamphlets, petition drives, contacting the media or letter writing and email campaigns to the MPP’s working together we can bring in change needed to improve the current state of MUSH Sector.

We need to become more active for a variety of reasons. Some want to improve children’s rights while either in or after foster care, to improve accountability with registration and the Ombudsman or even criminal investigations of the MUSH Sector. Whether you are organizing a public awareness meeting or a protest, the principles of organizing are similar: you need clarity, vision and proper planning.


For our movement to be successful at influencing government policy, we must be able to back up its position, provide concrete proposals to decision-makers, and work in coalition with like-minded groups to demonstrate that there is public support for its issues such as the Ombudsman oversight for children’s aid societies, seniors, students, victims of medical malpractice or police brutality. Effective campaign organizing combines a number of strategies to be able to reach the broadest number of people and have the greatest impact.

To achieve this, it is important to use a diverse set of tactics that are tailored to your campaign objectives. A three-pronged approach to campaigns and advocacy: research, lobbying and mobilization.

1. Accurate Research

Thorough, accurate and in-depth research is required to justify any proposal put to government. Research can also provide us, government officials, and the media with timely information on and analysis of government policies and trends within the Child Protection system. Research is integrated into our day-to-day work. It is used in briefs to MPP’s, in meetings with government officials and senior administration, and when dealing with Children’s Aid and mainstream media.

Research not only serves as a tool to respond to government initiatives, it is the foundation for promoting the policy objectives of our movement.

2. Lobbying Decision-Makers

The primary purpose of our movement is to present our issues and concerns with the various MUSH Sector to government and other decision-makers. Regular contact with elected and nonelected officials and bureaucrats is how our movement conveys the message to government. Over the years, our movement has become a stronger presence in the Ontario legislatures. By presenting well-researched submissions to government, we are able to bring the interests of the children and families to government officials and other decision makers.

On a regular basis, we should be holding meetings with elected officials, senior civil servants and representatives from all political parties in the province. We should all be offering our perspectives and providing information to government hearings, committees and inquiries.

3. Involvement

As a grassroots movement we require the involvement of all individuals. Because of this we must be mindful of our behaviour, appearance and control the flow of information to ensure maximum results. We must also have regular contact with government and comprehensive research has little impact unless the government believes that the message has widespread support. The demonstration of support is achieved through activities ranging from rallies for accountability, handing out pamphlets, petition drives, contacting the media to letter writing and email campaigns. These tactics raise public awareness of the issues, which in turn affects the decisions and policies of government.

Planning a Campaign: Getting Started

This is a guide to provide you with helpful hints on organizing..


Call it a Committee, a Coalition, or whatever fits best; a permanent and active coalition is the most essential tool in organizing. The committee can be put together from a group of volunteers and community activists. Involve your friends, put an announcement in the paper, contact other groups, , put up posters on bulletin boards, in stores, post online, set up information tables in high traffic zones, and use sign-up sheets to keep track of those who say they would like to be involved.

Building Interest

Decide on the goals and strategies of the campaign before you plan activities:

  • What results do you want to achieve?
  • Do you simply want your audience to become aware of the issue?
  • Do you want the people who hear or read the message to take an action, such as writing a letter to their MPP, making a phone call or attending a meeting or rally?


Explore all possible sources of in-kind donations for your project. For example, can someone provide free photocopying? Can someone sponsor an advertisement in the paper or radio station? Most media outlets provide free service announcements. Be creative and remember that it never hurts to ask for help. If you can encourage other members to become organizers, then your campaigns will be far more frequent and much more effective.


Brainstorming should be done both individually and collectively with groups across Ontario. One member of the group may pose the problem in a way that stimulates thought, and provokes a wide range of responses. Another person should be responsible for writing down all of the ideas that are called out. For best results, brainstorming should be intensive. A time limit should be agreed upon in advance. When the session is over, the list of ideas should be copied and distributed for analysis and consideration. Selection of the best ideas can be done later.

Tips for Effective Brainstorming:

  • Everyone should suspend judgment until evaluation time.
  • Creativity must be welcome. It is far easier to tame an idea into a workable format than to think new ones up.
  • Build on other ideas. This will contribute to a sense of unity and help build energy.
  • The more ideas the better-create an atmosphere in which everyone participates and contributes.


Organizing and delegating tasks must be decided by the coalition. Once people have taken on tasks, they should be responsible for reporting back to the coalition. Make sure that assignments are delegated to individuals who are keen to take responsibility for them. By scheduling tasks, you will create a sense of expectation for the time required to complete them.

It is important to share as much of the work as possible. If only a few people are doing most of the tasks, there can be a sense within the movement that others are not required. Remember, everyone will be more dedicated if they have a sense of ownership over the campaign.

Organizing tasks must be decided on and divided up among the committee. Once people have taken on tasks, they should be responsible for reporting back to the committee.

Essential Tasks Include:

  • Putting up rally posters;
  • Distributing leaflets and canvassing;
  • Sitting at information tables;
  • Media Spokespersons; and
  • Compiling and contacting volunteers through phone and email lists.

A good organizer will follow-up with everyone who has agreed to take on responsibilities in order to monitor progress and offer support in completing the task.


Be careful to ensure the campaign is paced so that the committee does not exhaust itself before the campaign is underway. It should build at a steady pace, with each event contributing to a sense of momentum. What you do in the weeks before your event or campaign can make or break the campaign. If you have been successful in building awareness of the issues, and involve a large number of people in the preparation of the campaign, you should have a good turnout for the event.

Along the way, meet regularly for coffee to assess the committee’s progress. By doing so, you will be able to gauge how well you are relating to the group, and whether you are on track for meeting the goals of the campaign. What feedback are you getting? Are more people coming to the coalition meetings each week?

Logistics Check-List

It is never too early to ensure that relevant facilities and resources will be available.

  • Ensure that regular meeting rooms are booked so that organizing coalition meetings can be well-publicized. Make sure that bookings for events are arranged well in advance. Ensure that facilities are accessible, and note that on any promotional materials you distribute.
  • If megaphones are required call around to see if one can be rented and that people bring recording equipment, as well as a proper signs.
  • There may be local media, like magazines or weekly TV shows, that plan content ahead of time and require advance notice. If you want media coverage, prepare media releases and updates regularly. Consider using public service announcements on your newspapers, TV or radio stations.
  • Don’t forget how important letters to the editors are. Even if coverage is sparse, letters can ensure a weekly presence and visibility. You can highlight your events by organizing regular submissions to your local media.
  • Don’t become obsessed with the media if the editors don’t see the campaign organizing/events as important.
  • Contact speakers such as vocal professionals or MPP’s that you might want to have appear at an event well in advance. Confirm with them as you get closer to the date of the event.
  • Check to see that your event does not conflict with other events in local community or if it’s a related cause you should be working together.
  • Find out what other groups are doing and whether your activities can be coordinated.

Tips for Successful Organizing


Given the pressure that some families are under, finances, court, family and other commitments, it is important to find ways to allow them to participate. It is the role of the organizers to motivate others, so that we can achieve accountability for everyone.


Many families have personal experience with the problems of the Child Protection system. There is no need to trick people into getting involved and besides, it’s risky. The best way to ruin good opportunities to bring people or media to an event is to over-hype and under-deliver. Stick to the basic, tried-and-true methods, be irreverent and use your imagination!


Sometimes families can get demoralized if change does not occur immediately, after only one event or campaign. By giving them a sense of history and perspective, they will be less susceptible to becoming discouraged and hopefully prevent them from discouraging everyone else.


Most importantly, people know when they are being “fed a line.” Avoid moralistic cheer leading. People need accurate assessments of where the campaign is and where it is going.


The best way to get people involved is success! Although there is no sure-fire formula for motivating people, you can promote involvement in an action by highlighting victories and giving people an opportunity to help shape the event or campaign.

Research: Good Facts Make Good Arguments

Research is a crucial component of all campaigns. Policy-driven research supports and informs government relations efforts and accessible research helps drive movement involvement. Through the research generated by all our groups, local and provincial representatives are able to draw upon facts, figures and arguments to support their efforts for social policy that better responds to the needs families.

Research helps to add credibility to your arguments and can be done in a number of ways. It can be based on statistics that you gather from senior officials within your institution. It can also be based on surveys that your group develops and circulates among other groups. Generally, issues that arise in the Child Protection system are widespread, affecting families in similar ways in different communities. This is when research conducted at a provincial level can help to bolster a local campaign. If you find that you need help researching a particular issue, be sure to contact other Ontario groups.


  • Share information about what’s happening in your community.
  • Post questions or local news to other groups.
  • Find interesting facts that will catch the attention of your group.
  • Find research that has been conducted by CAS that can be used against them.
  • Find someone with no prior involvement that can become a member of the local CAS and report back about Board Meetings and other issues.
  • Have someone else begin posting the research on your websites and the various
    Facebook pages and keep it available.

Lobbying: Strategic Contact with Decision-Makers

We need to continue forming a professional and ongoing dialogue with governments and decision-makers at all levels.

When we meet with decision-makers, it is important to maintain realistic expectations and to understand how the movement can most effectively bring about legislative change.

Families cannot afford to lobby by “greasing the wheels” of the legislative process with perks or by threatening to withdraw election campaign funding. These methods are too expensive, and do not provide long-lasting legislative change or public support. The best way for the movement to make its point is through careful research, demonstrating public support, and mobilizing members to maximize our strength in numbers.

Lobbying involves:

  • Meeting with politicians and civil servants in order to keep them informed about new research;
  • Jointly hosting media conferences to highlight a specific issue with supporting coalition partners or politicians;
  • Maintaining contact with journalists from commercial, alternative and community media and ensuring that they are informed about our views on a wide range of local and provincial MUSH Sector issues;
  • Creating links with other groups and organizations that share an interest in accountability issues, or, responding publicly to events or groups who support accountability;

In all cases, lobbying relies on the exchange of information. Having the right kind of information makes all the difference, especially when you are trying to influence public policy. That is why lobbying efforts depend heavily on its research.


Any organization hoping to influence government policy must have a vision of what it wants. Whether your objective is to stop harmful amendments to the Child and Family Services Act, or to bring in positive changes, the ambitious goals require change to very specific policies. Moreover, such policy changes are often at odds with the surrounding political. Although governments make commitments to funding programs, they are more often focused on debt-reduction, tax cuts, and place greater emphasis on market forces than in the delivery of social services.

By identifying long-term policy objectives, we can provide a clear vision of what accountability should look like. Having a clear standard in mind helps our movement and their potential supporters to separate fact from fiction.

Avoid “solutions” which would entrench policies that make it more difficult to attain our long-term objectives.

Pick a promising idea floating in government circles and winnable issues, and spread the word when “wins” are achieved. By definition, winnable issues are
almost always small issues.


For a coordinated lobbying approach to be effective, there needs to be a clear division of duties among all levels of organizing the movement.

Local Groups and Coalitions

Local Groups and Families are often in a far better position to influence their local MPs or MPP’s than on a national or worse international level for the simple reason that individual families and groups in any given community are also potential voters. Some politicians may not be thrilled at the idea of meeting their constituents, but it is a responsibility they cannot ignore. Many of the representatives on institutional governing boards are selected by the provincial government, thus it is often worthwhile to include them in lobbying efforts.

Where should be focusing for Accountability

Ontario should concentrate its efforts only at the provincial cabinet level and the relevant sectors of the provincial bureaucracy. The jurisdiction held over the MUSH Sector and most other institutions are strictly provincial matters and will never be a federal as the trend for the Federal Government is offloading services to the provinces at to attempt to influence an entire nation that will never have an effect on our policies will take a lot of time. You should always contact the Ontario groups to discuss strategy if you’ve managed to schedule a meeting with a local politician or bureaucrat at either the provincial or federal level.

At the national level the we shouldn’t focus much time but MP’s can place calls to local MPP’s and others within their provincial party.

Some Points to Remember about Lobbying:

  • Lobbying is not negotiating. Representatives meet with elected officials and bureaucrats to exchange information. The desire to “cut a deal” with a politician
    is common, but beware. Easy wins are rarely “wins” at all!
  • There is no single form of lobbying. Lobbying to get a government contract is very different from defending the interests of families and/or specific policies for
    the MUSH Sector. In the second case, public opinion becomes paramount and there has to be a public relations campaign to support lobbying efforts.
  • Approach meetings with an MPP or an MP carefully and dressed to win. Take careful notes and be sure to follow-up on any action items.
  • Friendly MPs and MPPs are often hungry for new information. Facing limited resources, they will openly embrace solid research findings that will allow them to better argue their case with their colleagues.
  • Busy people do not like to have their time wasted. You lose credibility if you ask to meet with MPP’s who have already met you without bringing new information and/or new and valid arguments.
  • Lobbying also involves gathering new information from those you are meeting with. Bureaucrats can be helpful in that regard.
  • It is important to be well prepared when meeting MPs and MPP’s. You should know what an MP or MPP has said about MUSH Sector, where she or he stands on issues of accountability and issues facing children in care or families, and so on. You should also decide in advance what you want from that person: an opinion, a commitment, etc.
  • Regular meetings with local MPs and MPPs are an essential part of the movements overall lobby strategy. Government representatives are more likely to sit up and listen when they hear the same message at home and at Queen’s Park.
  • Take someone with you. Before you go to the meeting make sure that the two (or more) of you have the same idea about what is going to happen, and what the aim is. Decide what approach to take, and who will ask which questions.
  • Be well prepared. Do not hesitate to consult notes. This will give an impression that you are sincere and precise.
  • No matter how much you are provoked, do not become angry, sarcastic, or discourteous. You are there to gain support.
  • Be prepared for the argument that “they are doing a great job, have a tough job or that accountability already exists.” It is important to not be intimidated by this argument.
  • Prepare a brief written statement of your position to leave behind after the meeting. Fewer pages have a much better chance of being read than a long document.
    Please consult with other Ontario groups for information.
  • After meeting with an MPP, send them a letter of thanks for the meeting. If you have promised to forward information, send it along with the thank-you letter immediately.
  • Take careful notes about any commitments that you are given and anything else that the politician says that might be helpful in the future and be sure to send a
    copy to the other Ontario groups so that we can build on our collective efforts

Steps to Organizing Events

  1. Setting Goals – First things first: you should set concrete goals for involvement and intended impact. This will give direction to your planning and criteria for evaluating the campaign.
  2. Planning – Now that you have an idea and a set of goals, you should define your campaign or event. Why are you doing it? Who is it for? Where is it? When is it?
  3. Dividing Up Responsibilities – Make a list of everything that will need to be done and divide up responsibilities among the group. Tasks may include getting working with the committees for proper media releases, designating those who will be spokesperson to the media, ensuring everyone knows who is in charge and the rules during a rally, who the speaking will be and that they are aware of the issues, putting up posters, handing out pamphlets, getting petitions signed, a rally permit and maintaining Websites, Facebook and Twitter pages. All groups should be sure to delegate tasks, so that one small clique doesn’t end up monopolizing all the power and experience – and risk burning themselves out.”
  4. Logistics, Organizing and Networking – help with accommodations and obtain permits well in advance. Make sure that speakers know what they will be speaking about. Arrange transportation for participants, and scout locations for accessibility to the public. Ask other organizations to endorse the event or to help organize it, or both. This will broaden support for your action and increase its impact.
  5. Outreach – Seek out partners like clubs, unions, local professionals, and community organizations to help organize and promote the campaign. By coalition building, a campaign can reach a much wider audience. Remember that other groups are more likely to promote a campaign that they have played a role in organizing.
  6. Publicity – Effective publicity is essential to the success of our movement. The power of our groups relies on the number of people engaged in an issue. Therefore, getting the word out PROPERLY is one of the most important things we’ll ever do to make or break this movement. This requires a well-thought-out strategy and communication with the other Ontario groups and it’s very important that we do not attempt to do this alone.

We have a lot of tools at our disposal including online tools such as websites, blogs, Twitter and Facebook; however do not forget that online publicity is not a replacement for but rather a complement to on-the-ground personal outreach to the general public.

We must ensure the following principles of effective publicity: appearance, visibility, simplicity, clear language,
positivity, creativity, repetition, reputation, pride and focus.

  1. “Day-Of” Preparation – What needs to be done on the day of an event? Make sure that a designated group of organizers know what they need to do: last outreach push, calling media, microphone setup/cleanup, having a table at the event, and possibly food preparation are some things to consider after the event.
  2. Evaluation – Keeping track of ongoing work is critical. As campaigns unfold, make sure organizers continuously share their successes and their challenges. This will help ensure that the different tactics are helping advance the strategy. Hold a post-event meeting for organizers and participants to debrief and gain closure. Treat this as an opportunity to celebrate your hard work and to delegate post-event tasks.

Evaluate the event by reviewing media coverage, participation, speakers, and the various organizing efforts, such as facilitation, planning, and outreach. Examine the strengths and weaknesses and compile your experiences into a final report to be used in the future. Be prepared to have a statement ready for any events that transpired at the events and respond quickly to any reactions by the Ministry or the MUSH Sector with a single, respectful letter to the editor should any facts are missing or need to be addressed. It is paramount we continue building relationships with the media and we can’t afford to burn any bridges along the way.

This will build the cohesiveness of your group and allow you to improve your campaign over time. It is also useful to write up some of these ideas immediately afterward, while they are fresh so that you may reflect upon them the next time you start the organizing process.

Volunteers: Tips for Recruiting

  • Your energy and enthusiasm for the project will motivate others to participate.
  • Promote the positive! Instead of just stating what you need from volunteers, shot potential volunteers what they will gain from being involved with your campaign.
  • Clearly describe the activities that volunteers will be involved with in the campaign, as well as the overall goals and objectives. Provide potential volunteers with descriptions of what they will be doing to help more people involved.
  • Volunteers need to feel wanted and valued. If you recruit people who are eager to help on
    the campaign, but do not make them feel valued or needed, you will lose them.
  • Diversify your efforts. Reach out and involve other groups from different cities.
  • Be honest about the time commitment involved and other challenges that families and those working might encounter. Realize that volunteers who may be working, caring for a family, or dealing with other issues.
  • When planning a campaign or event, make sure that it does not exclude certain groups or individuals from getting involved.
  • Recognize the faults or perceptions that others might have of your organization, and be willing to honestly address them.
  • Contact community groups and other potential coalition partners to get them involved.

Rules of Power Tactics

are the individual steps that you take to fulfill your action plan. In a world where power is not equally distributed, those who don’t have power to make policy (e.g. children & families) seek to diminish the power of those who do (e.g .. children’s aid workers, the minister, politicians and administrators), in order to win policy changes.

Rule 1: Power is not only what you have, but what your opponent thinks you have.

If you have a large number of supporters, organize a vast and visible rally to openly show your strength. However, if your numbers are small, then organize an action that makes a lot of noise and will make your event seem bigger than it is.

Rule 2: Never go outside of the experience of your people.

When an action is outside of the experience of the people, the result is confusion, fear and retreat. Your supporters need to feel confident about their actions.

Rule 3: Whenever possible, go outside of the experience of your opponent.

Doing so can result in confusion, fear and retreat for your opponents.

Rule 4: Make your opponents live up to their own book of rules.

Demonstrating the hypocrisy of bad policy is an excellent way to weaken your opposition. Look for ways in which decision-makers are applying a different set of standards for themselves.

Rule 5: Satire is a powerful weapon.

It is almost impossible to counter-attack ridicule because it doesn’t play by the rules of debate. Also, it can infuriate the opposition, who then react to your advantage.

Rule 6: A good tactic is one that your people enjoy.

If your supporters are not having a great time, then there is something very wrong with your tactics.

Rule 7: A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.

People can sustain rebellious interest in any issue for only a limited time, after which it becomes a ritualistic commitment.

Rule 8: Use a variety of tactics!

Don’t become predictable and be sure to utilize all the events of the period for your purpose. Don’t let your opposition have time to catch their breath, re-group and respond.

Rule 9: The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.

However, be sure not to make threats that you can’t deliver, or else someone might call your bluff and you will lose credibility.

Rule 10: Pressure produces reaction; constant pressure sustains action and produces change.

It is the unceasing pressure that results in the reactions from your opposition that are essential to the success of your campaign.

Rule 11: If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counterside.

Based on the principle that every positive has a negative, you should also look to exploit negative circumstances to create positive change.

Rule 12: The price of a successful campaign is a
constructive alternative.

You cannot risk being trapped without an answer by an opponent who is suddenly agreeing with your demand. Always know what short and long-term changes you are looking for.

13: Pick a target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

Always single out your primary target and keep the focus on them. In today’s complex society, it is often hard for people to understand who is ultimately to blame for bad policy. Of course, your target will try to shift the blame and avoid responsibility. It is up to you to keep the pressure on. The more uncomfortable they are with the unwanted attention, then the more likely they are to give in to your demands.

NOTE: These rules are adapted from the teachings of Chicago-based community organizer and trainer, Saul AI insky.

Tips for Effective Online Organizing

To effectively organize online, it’s important to recognize that online organizing cannot be a replacement for face-to-face interaction. Not everyone is involved with online networking tools, and the benefits and value of a live conversation will continue to far outweigh those of online work. However, online organizing can be an important and effective tool for enhancing your campaign when used correctly.

Since many of us have busy schedules, those who support our movement may not have the time to attend meetings or to volunteer for various tasks, but they may still want to keep track of the campaign, sign a petition, or let their friends know about the issue.

Possibilities for communication continue to expand with advancements in technology; leaving doors wide open for improvements in how you communicate with your members.

1. Identify the Appropriate Medium to Promote Your

Depending on your issue, different online tools may be helpful in spreading the word and mobilizing support. Facebook is very popular not only among grassroots organizations, but also with politicians, corporations and media. Twitter can allow for regular updates on campaign progress while mass text messages may help to mobilize just before a rally. Listservs containing your members’ emails are beneficial for updates and getting your message to those who may not engage with social network sites. Flickr and YouTube provide a forum to post photos or videos and generate a buzz around your campaign. Whichever medium you choose, be sure that it is an appropriate method to outreach to your audience based on the goals, strategies and tactics..

2. Set Up a Website

Setting up a website is one of the most popular and effective tool for online organizing. It acts as a central clearing house of information for your campaign. Your website address should be simple and easy to remember to ensure that it is accessible to the largest amount of people. Also, having additional areas of interest and more in-depth information about your campaign on the website makes it easy for you to engage face-to-face without taking too much time. An interactive website will be fresh and interesting to your members. You can add video content, polls or an online petition to generate buzz and make your website more engaging. Be sure to have a contact for members of your group posted so that people interested can get involved.

3. Create a Facebook Group for Your Issue

Creating a group online allows for a portal where those who are involved with your campaign can communicate. As a group creator or administrator, posting pictures, videos and relevant links give a chance for your members to become more engaged. Forums and discussion topics can directly involve your members, giving them the opportunity to better connect with your campaign. You can also post campaign updates, news, send out event notices, or link to petitions. Relating your issue to a general community online allows for the opportunity to connect with other groups, helping to build community and gain allies.

4. Post Your Event

an event through an online network is a quick way to bring it to your members’ attention. As an event organizer you can provide all information pertinent to the event and send it your members instantaneously. Again, relying on online organizing to bring people out to your event is not more effective than hitting the pavement and talking to people, but is a good preliminary action to reach a large amount of people. Also be sure to work with other groups to ensure everyone is on the same page and there is consistency.

5. Tweet Your Updates

Creating a Twitter account for your campaign is not only a great way to communicate instant updates with your members, but also with the broader community and the media. Many media outlets follow Twitter clusters that contain organizations working on similar causes. Tweeting your updates as they happen is a great way to create buzz and increase your chances of having a story written about your issue.

6. Use an Emailer

Is your campaign directed towards a person or group in particular? Maybe the best way to get your message out is by creating a customized emailer which can be embedded on your website. People can then fill out the fields and send an email directly to the person or persons at whom your issue is directed. By providing people with a template and a customizable message, you can help them actively engage in your campaign by sending an email with your campaign demands.

7. Set Up an E-Newsletter

An e-newsletter is an online newsletter that gives organizers the space and layout to include lots of information. The information can be split up into similar topics or areas, and photos or other multimedia can be included. By using your listserv to send out the e-newsletter, you’re utilizing the ability to email in mass while at the same time adding more depth and detail to your information by organizing it into an online newsletter.

8. Whatever You Do, Make it Accessible

Ensuring that your group or cause is accessible to everyone despite their technological abilities is important. A group involving young people may be fine on Facebook, however a coalition group involving labour organizations or seniors may require a more general way of communicating like a listserv or a phone calls.

9. Manage Your Listserv

It is important to have at least one person moderate the listserv. You don’t want too many emails coming over the list every day that may make people hesitant to continue as a member. Also you want to stop any spam or junk email coming through the listserv to your members, distracting from your issue or cause.

10. Diversify Your Methods, Utilize All Tools

Use new media or social networking websites to continue to engage your members. Post your video on Youtube, blog your success or create an interactive website with a wiki, and add-on or a forum. Be sure to always ask for suggestions from your members and include those suggestions to ensure diverse approaches to online organizing.

11. Don’t Get Wrapped Up in Online Debate

Discussion and debate is an important part of any movement because it allows those involved to hone their message, assess their tactics and plan for the future. However, spending all your time engaging in online debate can distract activists from the work they need to do to get more people involved. Beware of people who create fake online identities for the purpose of tying up organizers in unproductive debates. Also, beware of those who support your cause but spend all their time debating and never volunteer to help. Try to end such debates by inviting the parties to bring the discussion to the next meeting. Don’t be afraid to ignore unproductive debate or to shut down debate that is toxic and alienating to others.

The Campaign Plan: Thinking it Through

Too often organizers, even the best ones, get caught up thinking in terms of tactics, rather than strategy. Tactics (a rally, a petition, a sit-in, etc.) are the tools that are determined by your overall strategy for influencing your target.

An effective campaign plan incorporates tactics that help you enact a strategy that will bring you closer to your goals.

In order to develop a good campaign plan, you need to answer these six questions:

  1. What are your specific short and long-term goals?
  2. What resources are currently available for accomplishing them?
  3. Who are the primary and secondary targets of your campaign? (What people institutions have the power to give you the results you are looking for?)
  4. What means do you have for influencing your targets?
  5. Who will help and who will hinder your efforts?
  6. What actions or steps can be taken to achieve the results?

The best campaign plans make everyone’s collective efforts count, and avoid wasted activity and duplication. This process should move from the general to the specific, from the big picture to the small, from the long-term to the short-term, from the “what” to the “how.”

In order to move through this process it is important to:

  • Set a collective goal;
  • Develop strategies to achieve this goal; and
  • Select tactics that advance your strategy.


Develop a long-term vision of what you want to achieve, as well as short-term objectives that are quantifiable.

Brainstorm objectives that will lead to our goal, and then decide on which to pressure by asking:

  • Does this have strong support?
  • Is it specific enough? (i.e. “increase accessibility” may be too general, while “Secure government funding to reduce tuition fees” is a more specific target than can be measured.)
  • Is it attainable? Will it have an immediate and/or visible impact?


Once your group agrees on a goal or set of goals, ask yourselves how you might accomplish those goals. In your planning, try to look beyond the obvious and be sure to keep your action plan flexible so you can respond to the unexpected.

Selecting a Primary Target

A “primary target” is a person who has the power to give you what you want. This could be Children’s Aid Society, The Minister of Child and Youth Services, the Minister, college of social workers or the Premier of Ontario. Identifying an individual as your target is important for giving focus to your campaign but it does not imply that the person is evil. An individual becomes your target because they have the power to give you what you want, not because of their personal characteristics.

A Target is Always a Person

Even if the power to give you what you want is actually held by an institution or a body (board of governors, city council, college etc.), find out the name of the person who can make the decision, or at least strongly influence it, and personalize the campaign. This will narrow the focus of the campaign and help members feel that winning is possible. More often then not we should have a good working relationship with the opposition critics of Ministry Children and Youth Services.

Personalize the Target

A campaign to change a person’s mind is much more manageable than one to change the policy of a big institution or government. Individual decision-makers have human responses such as fairness, guilt, fear, ambition, vanity or loyalty. Such responses only come into play if you personalize the target and can help to better define the strategy taken by your coalition.

Selecting a Secondary Target

A “secondary target” is a person who has more power over the primary target than you do. However, this person is closer to you and, therefore, you have more power over them. This could be a key Minister who can put pressure on the Premier or a senior administrator who has influence over your college or university president.

Two Points to Remember:

  1. Identify the power you have over them and the influence they have over the primary target.
  2. Don’t feel obliged to have a secondary target if you have power over the primary target.


Developing good tactics mean doing what you can with what you have. Tactics are nothing more than creative and effective ways to fulfil your strategy. Tactics are the conscious and deliberate acts by which we try to change the world around us. Tactics can (and should) vary widely, depending on the strategy. They can be educational, motivational, confrontational, and so on. Good tactics also help to build new leadership.

A Guide to Developing an Effective Campaign


Write down the issue you want to address




Write down your specific goals




Write down answers to the following questions:

1) Who will ultimately make the decision that will allow you to achieve your goal(s)?



2) What factors will influenc~these decision-makers?



3) Who needs to be involved in the campaign?



4) Who is/are your audience(s)?




DECIDE ON YOUR TACTICS Write down the following:

1) How will you get those you have identified involved in the campaign?



2) Based on your targeted audience(s) how will you reach them?
List your audience(s) and the tactics that might reach them




Write down the following:

  1. 0ngoing Assessment

As the campaign unfolds, what criteria might you use to assess whether your tactics are advancing your strategy?


Overall Assessment

Once the campaign is finished, what might be your criteria for assessing the overall effectiveness of the campaign?



Rally & Protest Sign Tips

Pleases Investigate Children's Aid Aside from our appearance and behaviour, one of the single most important things our audience (the public) is going to judge us on are the signs we use. We are marketing the importance of our cause to the general public and must always ensure readability, spelling and with quality will show we are truly making an effort.



  1. Use 5 Words or Less! so people can read them at a greater distance or while driving.
  2. Each letter should be at least 4″ or larger. (the bigger the better).
  3. Spelling, Spelling, Spelling!!
  4. High contrast! Red or Black letters on White.
  5. To the Point and exactly what you want. Our 3’x4′ signs read “Please Investigate YOUR_CAUSE_HERE!” there is no confusion what our message is and why we ae there. Also, people driving can read theses signs from 1/2km away.
  6. If your on a budget go to a Home Hardware Building Supply store and get a 4′x8′ sheet of corrugated plastic for about $15. You can cut three 2′x3′ signs that will last a very long time.
  7. If you plan use markers, Staples sell boxes of them for under $5. First, use a pencil and some kind of stencil to make sure it looks nice, then fill in the letters with the markers after you triple check the spelling. Bad signs make us look bad.
  8. Other signs that get to the point…
    • Let the Ombudsman Investigate the MUSH!
    • Let the Ombudsman In Now!
    • Ontario Wants Oversight of YOUR_CAUSE_HERE!

Always assume most people don’t know what your cause is about!.

Letter Writing Tips

Letter Writing Tips

There are a few simple rules.

  1. Always be polite. This rule is essential and invariable. Your aim is to help stop human rights abuses, not to relieve your own feelings. Governments don’t respond to abusive or condemnatory letters (however well deserved).
  2. Always go on the basis that the government concerned is open to reason and discussion.
  3. It is important where possible to stress a country’s reputation for moderation and justice, to show respect for its constitution and judicial procedures, and an understanding of current difficulties. This will give more scope to point out ways in which the human rights situation can be improved.
  4. Follow strictly the instructions given by Amnesty International in the case in question. For instance if you are asked to appeal for medical treatment for a prisoner, make sure that you request this, and not a speedy trial or release which might be appropriate in another case.
  5. Never use political jargon. Don’t give the impression that you are writing because you are ideologically or politically opposed to the government in question. It is far more effective to stress the fact that your concern for human rights is not politically based in any way, but in keeping with basic principles of international law.
  6. It is preferable to give an indication of who and what you are. This indicates that the letter is genuine, and also shows that people from varying walks of life are following events in the country concerned.
  7. If you have any special interest or link with the country, it is a good idea to mention this in your letter. For instance, you may have visited it, studied its history, or been a member of a local association for friendship with it.
  8. Be brief. A simple, one line letter is adequate and is certainly better than no letter at all. A good rule is not to write more than one page (ie one side). Long letters are less likely to be read. Only in exceptional cases are long letters effective.

Avoid personal attacks against MPP’s or representative at all costs.


Source Amnesty International

How To Get The Media To Work In Our Favor.

Making the News… By learning How to Play the Spin Wars

Building a Message Box

When preparing to respond to or to create an issue in the media, your message box should be prepared as well in advance as possible and practiced thoroughly.

Your message box is your self-imposed set of boundaries or the vault from which you draw responses to questions and from which you make statements to media. In preparing a message box, follow these steps:

  • Decide what you want to say about your issue-your strongest arguments.
  • Decide who your audience is.
  • Attempt to determine what your audience wants to hear about your issue.
  • What arguments will the majority of your audience be sympathetic to?
  • Determine what your opponents are likely to say about you.
  • Develop responses to your opponents’ arguments.
  • Avoid personal or individual stories and focus on the broader issues.


Create your message box using the following format. 

US ON US – What are the three key points you want to say to your audience about the issue?



What are the three key points your opponents are likely to say about your position?



What are the three key points you want to say about your opponents’ position?



What are the three key points you want to say about your opponents’ position?



Email Campaigns

We are currently updating our new 2011-2012 email campaigns and will be posting them shortly.



Effective Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor are an effective and inexpensive means of getting your message out. Remember, among readers likely to pay attention to political issues. In a newspaper, more pay attention to the letters to the editor page than to the editorials or the columnists.

There are five keys to effective letters to the editor:

  1. Provide a news story tie-in. Letters that don’t relate to current issues and news stories are less likely to be published. If you can, refer to an article printed in the paper to which you are sending your letter and do it right away. Waiting a week (or even a few days) will make your letter too late. If there isn’t such an article, provide a tie-in in your lead sentence.
  2. Keep it short!. Editors of letters sections don’t print long letters-they edit them and make them shorter-if they print them at all. The more you put in a letter, the more an editor has to cut and the less likely your letter will read as you wanted it to. Keep your letter short-three or four short sentences is best-and try to make only one point. That is all the reader is likely to understand anyway.
  3. Be straightforward and respectful; don’t be sarcastic. Too many writers of letters to the editor use sarcasm to make their point. Unfortunately, sarcasm is lost in print. Say what you need to say clearly and concisely and in a straightforward manner. Otherwise you will leave your readers confused.
  4. What you need to include in your letter; If you wish your thoughts to be considered as a possible letter to the editor, you need to forward your complete, local home mailing address as well as a daytime number where you can be reached for verification purposes. In most cases only your name and city of residence will be published.
  5. Avoid personal attacks against any reporter or media outlets at all costs.




Advocates Code of Conduct


Code of Conduct for Online Communities’ Volunteers

As an Online Community Volunteer you will often post to other websites, blogs, forums and other virtual spaces. This is a highly valuable and visible volunteer position.

As an individual, we support your freedom of speech and freedom to hold your opinions. However, as a volunteer and ambassador of the Online Communities for International Members and e-activists, we have provided the following guidelines for appropriate behaviour while volunteering in this position.

Any contributions by an Online Community Volunteer must:

  • be accurate (where they state facts)
  • be genuinely held (where they state opinions)
  • be in solidarity with the policies and human rights agenda of Amnesty International
  • comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted

In addition:

  • When using the debate area of the sites please do not provide personal details, either your own or those of someone else.
  • Do not endanger yourself or others.
  • Assume that what you publish on the web is permanent. Anyone on the internet can easily print out a submission or save it to a computer.
  • Participants should treat each other with respect, recognising their right to freedom of opinion and expression.

Any contributions by an Online Community Volunteer must NOT:

  • be defamatory (a defamatory comment is one that may damage the reputation of a person or organisation);
  • be in contempt of Court (for example, your contribution must not contain anything that risks prejudicing current or forthcoming Court proceedings);
  • be threatening, abusive, harassing or invasive of a person’s privacy;
  • be sexist, racist, profane, blasphemous, homophobic or otherwise discriminatory and/or offensive;
  • promote violence or advocate, condone or assist any unlawful act;
  • describe violent intentions towards other people or organisations;
  • be pornographic, sexually explicit, obscene or lewd;
  • be used to impersonate any person or to misrepresent your identity;
  • infringe any copyright, database right, trade mark or any other intellectual property, confidentiality or privacy rights of any person or organisation or otherwise violate any law