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Contemporary Canadian Govt. & Politics: Contacting People

Selected Primary Sources and their Finding Aids: What Is Happening Now -- Contacting People

Not all information is written down, available on the Internet, recorded on tape or in a library. In some cases, people may be the best sources of information, especially when very current information is needed.

If you have confirmed that the person in a government position or politics that you wish to contact has not already answered your questions in a previous interview, speech, or in the House of Commons Debates or a committee meeting, in an article or book, it may be appropriate to conduct your own interview with the person. Contacting people is so much easier and cheaper to do now through email and online forms on the Internet, than it was in the past, but that does not mean it should be done without careful preparation. Whether you conduct a formal interview or just ask a few questions, by telephone, email or other method, you should be well into your research before even considering this option.

NOTE: Do as much research as possible first so that you have an understanding of the topic, can ask succinct and intelligent questions, will be able to understand the responses, and won't waste the interviewee's time.

TIPS for interviewing someone on the telephone or by email:

  • make sure the person you address is an expert or a reputable source for the information;
  • explain who you are and the purpose of your research;
  • ask specific questions that can be answered quickly and easily by the interviewee, not broad or vague questions;
  • be succinct, clear, and polite in your request (you are asking a favour and they do not have to help you);
  • make it as easy, quick, and pleasant for them as possible;
  • write a thank-you note to anyone who was helpful who does not get paid to help you.
  • cite the interview in your bibliography or reference list (see Part 7 Citing Sources Used -- Primary Sources for details).

See also:
"The Art of Getting Help". By Phil Agre. Originally published in The Network Observer, vol. 1, Number 2, February 1994.

This is an excellent little article on the basic principles of getting help effectively. It includes requesting help by email and in person.

Contacting People in Government:

For tips on accepted forms of address (opening and closing salutation for letters and how to address federal and provincial government officials in conversation) see Scott's Canadian Sourcebook or other Canadian almanac. Available in most libraries.


Government Electronic Directory Services (GEDS).

This is the main government directory of federal public servants in Canada. Information provided includes telephone and fax numbers, mail and email addresses, and position within the Government of Canada.

Members of Parliament. House of Commons: Senators:

The House of Commons Members page links to a list of all current Members with their constituency, political affiliation, province, telephone and fax numbers, email address, and mailing addresses in Ottawa (postage-free) and their constituency office. You can also search for current and past Members by name, constituency or postal code. Information for each Member also includes their roles in Parliament and recent work (votes, motions, bills, committee and chamber interventions).
Senators are listed by province and affiliation with contact information and names of staff members.

Canadian Government Offices Abroad. (Formerly Canadian Representatives Abroad.)

Links to the websites of embassies, consulates, high commissions, trade offices, and permanent missions to international organizations, with the name and contact information for Canada's representative.

Departments, Agencies and Parliamentary Committees:

Government of Canada Contacts. Canada Site.

Provides links to the "Contact Us" page on each agency's web page.

Parliamentary Committees Select "Committee Business"

House of Commons Committees: From the window on the left side of the screen, under the House of Commons heading, click on "Committee List". Select the committee to see contact information (mailing address, telephone and e-mail address) for the Committees Directorate.
Senate Committees: From the window on the left side of the screen, under the Senate heading, click on "Committee List", select a committee, then click on "Contact Information" for the telephone numbers of the Committee Clerk, Administrative Assistant and General Information, for the fax number and mailing and e-mail addresses.

Info Source: Sources of Federal Government and Employee Information. Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.

Use this to find contact information for federal government departments and agencies that fall under the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. Information provided includes an inventory of information holdings and personal information under their control.

Telephone Access to Government of Canada Information. Canada Site.

This page provides details on the toll-free (1-800-O-CANADA) number for general assistance by telephone from within and outside of Canada.

Websites of Federal Government Departments and Agencies.

The list of departments and agencies on the Canada site. Each will include some contact information.

See also the Government pages of your local telephone book.


Contacting People in Politics

Contact information available for each political party varies. Party websites usually include various ways of contacting the party including mailing address, phone, email address, blogs, web forms, etc. Some also include links to the provincial and territorial associations, federal riding association president, federal candidates and their email addresses and personal web pages. Use the List of Registered Political Parties below to link to the websites of the federal political parties in Canada.

List of Registered Political Parties and Parties Eligible for Registration. Elections Canada.

The list of registered and deregistered  political parties includes contact information for the headquarters, the name of the party  leader, chief agent and auditor, and a link to the party's website.

List of Electoral District Associations. Elections Canada.

Links to the Electoral District Associations Database where you can find contact information for political party associations in each electoral district. Searchable by party, province/territory, electoral district and association keyword.

Officers of Party Caucuses and Executives of Federal Political Parties. Library of Parliament, Information and Documentation Branch.

Listed here are the names of the Party Leader, Deputy Leader, Caucus Chair and Deputy Chair, Whip, Deputy Whip, Party President and Director or Federal Secretary for each of the official parties represented in Parliament. Clicking on the linked names leads to contact information including personal website, political profile, and more.