Organizing Guide

Building a local campaign for the federal election:  

Step 1: Form an organizing committee 

Use this election as an opportunity to engage your membership in the work of the association. Call and email members to invite them to discuss the election, what it means for your members, and CAUT’s election strategy. Invite members to join an organizing committee and help to shape the association’s local election campaign.  

  • Here is a sample agenda for the meeting, which includes Step 2 and 3.  

Step 2: Identify local candidates, their positions, and our points of leverage 

Identify the candidates in your riding(s) and where they stand on our issues. Use a spreadsheet to track each candidate, their social media accounts, their policy positions, and any important notes about candidates or personal connections your members may have to them. For example, some candidates may have graduated from your university or college, or a member might know a candidate because they go to the same place of worship or have children who play sports together. This information could provide an opening to meet with candidate and convince them to publicly support our campaign. 

*Your members will most likely live in different ridings. Fill out the spreadsheet for each riding represented at the meeting. Members can also work in groups based on their riding. *  

Step 3: Create a campaign calendar 

Create a list of upcoming events to get a better sense of opportunities to intervene and when you should plan your own actions and events. Look through news sites and candidates’ websites and social media accounts to see what is already planned. Add in any related events coming up for your association and university.  

A few questions to consider as you develop your calendar:  

  • Have you included all the events and activities your association already does in September and October and that can be leveraged for the campaign? (e.g. Fair Employment Week? Gender Equality Week?) 
  • Are there ways to tie the election campaign into an upcoming round of bargaining and member engagement?  

See CAUT’s sample calendar.

Step 4: Work in Coalition 

After meeting with your organizing committee, consider holding a second meeting with other unions and allied groups on campus to further plan campaign activities. The underfunding of post-secondary education affects students, academic staff, and workers on our campuses. This campaign can be an opportunity to build and strengthen relationships with campus allies and coalition partners. Building alliances with other unions and campus groups is essential to a campaign’s success.  

Also consider forming a coalition of education organizations in your riding, including elementary and secondary school teachers, public school unions, academic staff associations, support staff and students, to meet as a group with each candidate. Bring CAUT’s 2022 Pre-budget submission with you to leave behind.  

Here are a few things to consider when approaching potential coalition partners to participate and help shape the campaign.

  • Make sure that the campaign messaging is inclusive of each organization’s principles, objectives, and membership. Invite campus group representatives to the first organizing meeting to hear what plans and goals others may have. 
  • Provide different ways for organizations to participate in the campaign. Depending on the resources of the organization, this could include: co-organizing events, financial donations, and in-kind support such as printing or space, access to their membership listserv, or volunteers. 
  • Share ownership of the campaign. Rather than simply asking for the support of allies, work with your coalition partners to develop and implement the campaign. 

Step 5: Planning tactics & events 

Now that you have a good idea of the local candidates and their positions, as well as upcoming events and opportunities, it is time to plan how you can push the candidates to commit to making PSE a key election issue.  

With your organizing committee (and broader coalition, if applicable), think through things you can do to generate media attention, influence voters, and win commitments from candidates.  


  • Decide on what your organizing committee and coalition think would be effective and where those tactics fit on your calendar of events. 
  • Make sure to get contact information of supporters and offer ways for them to get involved in the campaign. 
  • Start small! Begin with smaller asks of supporters and your organizing committee to build momentum and capacity.  
  • Email [email protected] to let us know what you are planning so that we can help promote and support your advocacy.  

Make use of CAUT’s website and digital advocacy tools. 

At, supporters can quickly and easily: 

Each digital tool comes with talking points, tips, and facts – everything you need. Think about how you can coordinate the use of these tools locally to create a splash. For example, you could: 

  • Plan a pizza party where supporters call candidates for several ridings and ask them to support CAUT’s recommendations.  
  • If you are still working remotely, you can plan a Zoom phone bank where members can mute themselves and all make calls at the same time.  
  • Coordinate a ‘Twitter storm’ where many people tweet at candidates at a specified time.  
  • Email members and encourage them to use and share the email tool. 

On-the-ground tactics

Online isn’t everything though! There will be many on-the-ground opportunities that can be even more effective to engage members, the media, and candidates. CAUT has an election pledge for academic staff associations to print and use. Ask candidates to sign it to show their commitment, then post photos of them signing it on social media. Ask members to sign the pledge to include PSE as a priority this election. Collecting pledges is a good way to expand your base of active volunteers. 

We also have a petition for faculty, students, and supporters to sign so they can demonstrate their support for Post-Secondary Education (PSE) and pressure candidates to champion the reforms we need.

There are many other ways to increase awareness and build support. For example, you can put up posters on campus and in the community: CAUT has four issue-based posters—on equity, research, reconciliation and affordability. To download each poster, click on the link, then right-click on the image and select "Save image as". 

Write letters to the editors or opinion pieces

Letters to the editor are a simple and fairly easy way to highlight the issues impacting the post-secondary sector. You may also wish to submit an op-ed to your local newspapers on why post-secondary education is an important election issue in your community. Do not forget to make full use of your campus and community media.  If you would like support to draft a letter to the editor or an op-ed, contact CAUT at [email protected] 

Use social media

Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are common social media platforms. Develop a plan linking to the campaign calendar to regularly post on the platforms that you use. Postings can be information about events, issues, and images, or both. Use the hashtag #cdnpse and #Elxn44.  

Other ideas for actions

Put pressure on the candidates: 

  • Ask questions about PSE at events (even better if done as a group)
  • Send a questionnaire to candidates
  • Pledges
  • Organize a meeting with candidate(s) on campus 
  • Organize an all-candidates forum
  • Phone calls
  • Visit campaign offices & drop off materials

Get media coverage:

  • Op-eds 
  • Letters to the Editor
  • Twitter Storm
  • Art installations  
  • Banner drops 

Reach out to your members:

  • Tabling
  • Door knocking
  • Class talks
  • Postering 
  • Trivia night on PSE issues and federal politics
  • Teach-in
  • Film screening

*Note categories are just for illustration, many tactics accomplish multiple things* 

COVID restrictions might mean that some tactics are not possible. However, most tactics can be successfully moved online. Contact [email protected] for help setting up online events, virtual platforms, livestreaming and more. 

Get creative! Draw on the skills and passions of your volunteers to come up with new and different ways to keep supporters engaged and pressuring candidates right up to Election Day.