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- Understand Partisan, Non-Partisan, Bi-Partisan
- Key Messages
- Getting Their Attention
- Asking Questions
Understand Partisan, Non-Partisan, Bi-PartisanARNBC is a non-partisan organization. Non-partisan is defined as "objective" or not being controlled or unduly influenced by a political party or special interest group. In other words, we have no particular bias towards any political party and are not working to get any one person or party elected. Instead, we are interested in talking to all of the candidates about issues that impact nursing and nurses, and we believe that no matter which party takes office, we will be able to work with them on policy development and planning.
On the flip side, sometimes organizations (or individuals) are partisan, which is defined as something that is partial to a particular person, party or outcome. There's nothing wrong with this, and many nurses have very good reason to be partisan - perhaps a family member is running for a seat in the House of Commons, or perhaps they tend to have conservative or liberal views, or perhaps they know someone who works in politics. ARNBC welcomes the involvement of nurses who have a partisan viewpoint - but just note that we won't publish or support any one candidate or party over another.
Ironically, the other term, bi-partisan, is probably the most problematic, and maybe most conveniently used term of the three. Technically, bi-partisan is defined as 'composed of members from both parties'. Harry Truman once said, "Whenever a fellow tells me he is bi-partisan, I know he's going to vote against me."
ARNBC is completely non-partisan, but we welcome all nurses to bring nursing issues to the forefront with all candidates, regardless of party, throughout the election campaign.
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Key MessagesYou never know when an opportunity to chat with a candidate will occur. During election campaigns, candidates can be found at your local supermarket on a Saturday, marching in the parade, at your kids elementary school recital, biking along the seawall, hosting an open house or even knocking on your door. Sometimes the best opportunity to really share your passion and opinions with a candidate is during an informal face-to-face meeting.
ARNBC has lots of tools and suggestions of key issues that nurses can raise with candidates during the election campaign. But let's face it, there is a lot of information and a lot of issues. The best thing you can do is pick one or two issues that matter to you or that impact you personally as a nurse. Review the materials we've posted on the issue and come up with a few 'key messages' (or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you can't find anything, and we'll help you come up with some). A key message is the number one thing you want someone to do or remember after you've chatted with them.
A well-defined message has two key components. First, it is simple, direct, and concise. Second, it defines the issues on your own terms and in your own words. Your message will be much more meaningful if you express it in your own words with all of your opinion, frustration, joy or anger included. But it will help you to write your key messages down beforehand. You don't have to memorize them, but make sure you remember the general gist of what you want to say and how you want to say it.
So use the ARNBC key messages, figure out how you would say the same thing in your own words, and then practice how you'd say it. And be ready, because candidates can be anywhere, and what a great opportunity to represent your profession.
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Getting Their AttentionWe all know people who are at the center of their community - they're at every pancake supper, attend all the theatrical performances and know how the high school football team fared during the last game. The challenge for many of us is how to be included and invited to attend candidate meetings and events if we aren't the person who is at the centre of community events.
Nevertheless, there are certainly ways to become involved, and become the type of person whose presence and opinion is valued. During election campaigns, candidates meet a lot of people - some of them come to whine about injustices or problems within their community, others come forward with solutions and suggestions that are well thought out and considered. It's not a surprise who the preferred attendee is in this situation. No question most of us would rather listen to the individual who comes with a plan and ideas.
Meet your local candidates. They will have campaign offices, open meetings and attend community events. The calendars of candidates during election campaigns are packed with community and individual meetings. Make a point of talking to them. Don't consume their time. Share your well-thought out ideas and opinions and move on. Remember that they are meeting dozens if not hundreds of people every day - if each person asked for 20 minutes of their time, they would never sleep or eat. Plan your questions and key messages, introduce yourself, pass them your card and engage in a short conversation with them.
Meet your local candidates' staff. Often the aides and assistants are the ones who are the 'keeper of the rolodex'. Get to know them. If you have handouts or materials, give it to them (not the candidate) and go through any questions or comments you might have. They are also excellent resources when you want to set up a meeting - so get their card or email and use them as a fast and simple conduit to their candidate.
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Asking QuestionsWhen members of the public attend open candidate meetings, there is usually an opportunity to ask questions of the candidates. And while open microphones can be great, most of us have gotten up to a microphone to ask a question and ended up stuttering over words, saying something we didn't mean, babbling endlessly, or not being clear. There's nothing worse than feeling as if you've missed an opportunity to find out important information because you weren't clear with what you asked.
We have some suggestions that can help you to ask questions that are relevant and important.
- Bring along a pad and pen (or a laptop or tablet), and while the candidates are speaking or responding to other questions, be sure to jot down anything you would like further clarity on.
- Before attending the meeting, think about the health policy issues that are affecting your community and what sort of questions you feel candidates should be responsible for answering.
- Split the questions up among colleagues - only one question per person.
- Keep your question short and succinct. Stay away from questions that can be 'yes or no' answers, but don't ask complicated, compound questions. Chances are the individual won't remember all parts of your question if you attempt to ask too much at once.
- Don't be a microphone hog. Others will have questions, so arrive with your question in hand, say your piece and be done.
- Ask a question that you want all candidates to answer, not just one. Even if you know who you want to vote for, there are others in the room who may want to hear what all the candidates have to say.
- Focus on asking open questions like "What do you think about...?" or "How do you feel about...?" Or "How would you handle this process?" or "How would you implement the steps you discussed?"
- Review our Key issues pages to see some of our recommended questions
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