Advocating to Government

Working with all levels of government is a significant part of advocacy and ranges from working to change legislation or policy to increasing funding for programs. It is important to know which level of government you need to advocate to, as well as any rules and regulations that exist when it comes to government and advocacy. Each province has its own regulations around lobbying. Be aware of what regulates and guides advocacy and lobbying where you live.

There are specific regulations concerning lobbying, a specific type of advocacy work. Ensure you are following all legislation, regulations, and rules regarding lobbying in your municipality, in your province, and at the federal level. Know the legislation before taking any formal actions so that you understand your responsibilities and the expectations from a government perspective.

Ensure you are advocating to the right level of government and ensure that the language you use reflects the appropriate jurisdiction. Consider working with ministries that not only connect directly to the issue but could also be considered adjacent or connected in some way. For example, museums connect to not only heritage, arts, and culture, but also education, health, cities, Indigenous relations, economic development, tourism, environment, parks, recreation, and jobs, to name a few.

When you have identified the individual(s) that you will be advocating to, ensure that you have researched what they are working on, their past voting history on legislation, their policy interests, as well as the connection between the issue and their constituency. For example, know how the issue connects directly to those living in the riding of that Member of Parliament: are there statistics available to back up your request or information from the local museum to bolster your ask?

Be prepared. Do your research. Be clear in your objective: what are you asking of the individual or organization that you are advocating to for change?

If you are meeting with an elected official, you are often only allotted a short period of time for a meeting. Make sure you have done your research and are prepared with the specific ask of the individual. Know what you want to get across, and be prepared to answer questions.

Outlined below is what each level of government is generally responsible for so that you can work to identify which level of government is necessary for your advocacy work.[1] [2]

Municipal Government: Parks, libraries, community water systems, local police, roadways, and more. Municipal governments are often led by a mayor and are typically responsible for immediate issues that come up in a community.

Band Councils: Govern First Nations communities and are responsible for any decisions that affect their respective community.

Provincial Government: Culture, tourism, education, healthcare, natural resources.

If you are meeting with a Minister, read their Mandate Letter; know what they have specifically been tasked with by the Premier.

Federal Government: Anything that may affect the constitution of Canada and/or the country as a whole, including but not limited to the Department of Canadian Heritage.

If you are meeting with a Minister, read their Mandate Letter; know what they have specifically been tasked with by the Prime Minister.

Arm’s Length Agencies: Organizations that distribute funding on behalf of government, including arts councils and heritage authorities. Arm’s Length Agencies exist at all levels of government, and each province and municipality manage these relationships differently. Understand whether they are directly linked to an order of government, or if they are truly independent and autonomous.

Letter Templates

The letter templates in the Reconsidering Museums toolkit provide data points, messaging, and space for adaptability to help you draft letters to all three levels of government. There is also a community support letter template to help your community members draft a letter of support for the museum to government officials. 

Use these templates to create a letter writing campaign for your own museum. Access the templates here. 

[1] Ontario Nonprofit Network, “Ontario Nonprofit Network,” accessed September 18, 2022,

[2] Parliament of Canada, “The Three Levels of Government,” Our Country, Our Parliament, accessed March 2, 2023,

Last modified: Thursday, 2 March 2023, 10:52 PM