: Model Questions Package: Questions and Talking Points [PDF]
The election questionnaire is intended to communicate your divisional advocacy priorities to party leaders and candidates, and it is how you show that The Arthritis Society's issues should be a priority for the next government.
Know Your Audience
Party leaders are long-term politicians who are expected to respond to the full questionnaire in a comprehensive way that provides you with commitments to follow up on should his/her party gain power after Election Day. The questionnaire is also a step in building a long-term relationship with the leaders of parties that will be in opposition after Election Day. The commitments you receive from the party leaders in response to the questionnaire will be the commitments that count and can be acted upon.
are not always long-term politicians, and it is important to recognize that for many candidates, this is their first election; that is, they are not sitting members of the provincial/territorial legislature prior to the election call. Commitments from candidates (who are not party leaders) likely are not what will be followed-up on after Election Day. Candidates are trained to be concerned with constituency issues, not broader provincial/territorial issues, unless they have a specific interest. Candidates should be asked one or two of the questions at the door, at all-candidates meeting or debates by as many constituents as possible, and should be left with the general impression that arthritis issues are important to their constituents.
Writing the Questionnaire
*If you are in the Initial or Early stages of advocacy and would like to send an Election Questionnaire to party leaders in your province or territory, please use the Model Questions Package [PDF]
The election questionnaire is comprised of three to five questions that will clearly articulate your divisional advocacy priorities and ask for a commitment to each of the issues. The question should be ask-able in 30 seconds or less. Imagine the question being asked at a door-to-door canvass or at a debate where an advocate has only a few moments to ask a question. A brief sentence of background information, followed by a statement about the issue, and then the question is all that should be included. While party leaders (or their staff) will read the questions and respond, candidates will only have a few moments to hear the question and formulate an answer. As such, the questions should be short, concise, and remember that every word counts.
The three questions that addressed issues of provincial/territorial concern are included below for use as both an example and as possible questions for your own division's questionnaire. Please feel free to use any or all of these questions in your own questionnaire if they address your divisional advocacy priorities. These questions address issues of:
- Primary Care Professionals and Education About Arthritis
- Access to Specialist Care
- Access to Medications
In formulating your questions, use your divisional advocacy priorities as guidance. Remember, these are the issues that you will be working on for the duration of the next government's administration. Use your backgrounders, which will have statements and statistics in your province/territory about your advocacy priorities. The formula for a question is:
[Brief background statement] + [Concise Issue statement] + ["What will you do" question]
Brief background statement
The background statement should be a statement about how the issue broadly affects people in your province. This should be a statement that makes the candidate interested in the issue, making him/her understand immediate that "this affects my constituents". If you use a "most affected"-type statement, make sure to cite your source. For example, "Investments in hip and knee replacement procedures mean that Nova Scotians should have access within the 26-week benchmark wait time ".
Concise Issue statement
The issue statement will concisely state what the issue is. Basically, this is stating your divisional advocacy priority in one sentence. For example, "However, Nova Scotians wait the longest for access to hip and knee replacement procedures in Canada ".
"What will you do" Question
The question itself should be asked in such a way that both the background and concise issue statements are repeated. Ensuring this means that the leader or candidate must answer the question within the boundaries you set. For example, "What will your party do to ensure that Nova Scotians have access to hip and knee replacement procedures within established national wait times benchmarks?"
Talking points are used as guidance for advocates should they be able to engage a candidate in a conversation about the question they are asking. These points provide advocates with background information, including statistics about the issue in your province/territory, and statements about how the issue is addressed nationally or in other provinces/territories.
Four or five points to include should be concise and well-sourced. These points are only for the advocate, not for the leader or candidate. Talking points can be conversational, providing the advocate with a framework for a script, with each point leading naturally into the next. Please see the talking points used with the example questions included in this kit as guidance for developing your own points.