Meet with your Councillor

Your voice is powerful

Emails and petitions are good, but taking the time as a constituent to have a conversation with your elected representative makes a much larger impact.

Not sure exactly how? We can help!

Lobbying 101

We Need a Law has put together a very helpful Lobbying 101 guide that covers how to…

  1. Find your councillor
  2. Request a meeting
  3. Have the conversation

Talking Points

You don’t have to be an expert to voice your concerns to your representative! We have a few simple talking points to help you get started and hopefully make you feel confident in setting up a meeting to have the conversation about pro-life freedom of expression.

Core talking points:

  1. The Charter protects freedom of expression, even when it’s unpopular
  2. Victim photography is an important part of public discourse in a democracy
  3. The pro-life movement is motivated by love for women and children

(These points can be raised in whatever order you see fit)

Point #1: The Charter protects freedom of expression

The start to a typical conversation with your representative might look like this:

“Mr./Ms. (Name of Representative) I would like to share with you a concern that I have. It has come to my attention that the city is looking into placing restrictions on pro-life freedom of expression. This singling out of pro-life expression is very disturbing to me because Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the right to freedom of expression for everyone, even if the message is unpopular or a minority view. This includes the right to share photos.”

Your representative may reference recently passed by-laws restricting pro-life flyers in other municipalities to suggest that it is lawful to do so. However, none of these bylaws have survived a court challenge — and the City of St. Catharine’s is currently facing a Charter challenge over their by-law. You can share the link to this press release, and express your belief that the court will strike down that by-law, and then the by-laws in other cities will fall as well. It would not be responsible for a government to pass such a constitutionally questionable by-law.

Impress upon your representative that freedom of expression is central to a functional democracy, because it allows for public discourse.

Point #2: Victim photography is an important part of public discourse

Victim photography has been used for decades and decades in discussions on contentious issues, and still remains an important part of public discourse today. Many movements have advocated against violence and injustice by showing visual evidence of violence and injustice.

Share some examples of historical and/or contemporary movements who have used victim photography.

To explain this to your representative you could say something like:

“Within society there are all sorts of issues that are tough to discuss, such as war and racism. These conversations are very challenging and are often accompanied by videos and photos that are very hard to see, such as those currently coming out of the Middle East, which illustrate the death and destruction of innocent life. You can also think of photos or videos of police brutality that have sparked important public conversations. The pro-life movement is doing what many other movements do: sharing photos as part of an important conversation. How is it fair for the government to single out one message from one movement for special restrictions, when victim imagery is a regular part of the public discourse on many contentious issues?”

Point #3: The pro-life movement is motivated by love

Your representative may not be familiar with the pro-life movement, so take some time to talk about how the pro-life movement is motivated by love for women and children.

It is love for the vulnerable that leads pro-life Canadians to share a pro-life message on abortion with the public. Pro-lifers seek to educate people on abortion alternatives, providing information about support systems for pregnant women, and healing for those who have experienced trauma from abortion. Share about some of the crisis pregnancy centres that serve your community to help illustrate to your representative how the pro-life movement seeks to help people.

Your representative may assume that the only reactions to the pro-life message are negative, especially if they have only heard from pro-choice constituents. However, Canadians hold a wide variety of views on abortion, and many people are thankful to receive the pro-life message.

Share some positive responses to the pro-life message, whether from your own experience, or from some of the stories below.

To explain this to your representative, you might say something like this:

“I’ve been involved in the pro-life movement for the past 5 years because when I learned about abortion, my heart broke for children at risk, and women facing difficult pregnancies or who’ve had abortions. Many people I have talked with are unaware of the resources available to aid pregnant women and those who have experienced abortion, including [the local pregnancy crisis centre]. Through my discussions with members of the public, I have been able to help people become fully informed on the resources available.

I know that people hold a wide variety of views on abortion, so we always approach members of the public with compassion. I’d like to give you a sense of what it’s like when we talk to people about abortion. [share a story of your own, or from below] I share this, not because I think everyone believes the same thing about abortion, but because I know that it’s a contentious issue, and while some advocates for abortion may complain about our speech, I want to share with you that many people appreciate the message we have to share.

Isn’t it important that we can have productive and civil conversations in society, especially when we’re divided on an issue?”

Note that our goal in this conversation isn’t to make the case against abortion, but simply to share that, despite some people being angry with the pro-life message, many people are thankful to hear it. Our message is beneficial to many people in society.

Enhancing Discussion

Providing some specifics can be a powerful addition to your conversation.

  • Referencing court rulings may help you to communicate the importance and extent of the Charter right to freedom of expression
  • Discussing one or two groups or movements that use victim photography in their public message can help to illustrate that the pro-life movement is being singled out by this legislation, as we are not alone in using victim photography
  • Testimonies from people who were grateful to speak with pro-life advocates helps to underline the positive effect of the pro-life message, and shows that it is helpful for many people

We have lots of detailed examples listed on our references page.

Concluding the Meeting

As the meeting draws to a close be sure to summarize all of the points that you discussed during your meeting and state that you want your representative to vote against restrictions to pro-life expression.

It could go something like this:

“I hope that you understand that you have a responsibility to uphold the right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed by Section 2(b) of the Charter, which includes sharing photos with the public. Furthermore, I hope you understand that the pro-life movement works from a place of love and seeks to help and support people. I urge you to uphold your duty under the Charter and vote ‘no’ against efforts to repress pro-life freedom of expression! I appreciate you taking the time to meet with me today. Can I count on you to vote No?”

Webinar Recording

Still have questions? Toronto Right to Life and We Need A Law hosted a webinar about how to meet with your city councillor on pro-life freedom of expression. Contact us if you’d like access to the recording: