Bird-dogging is a hunting term. The bird-dog has to run into the bushes and flush out birds into the open. Politicians hide behind rhetoric, party lines and self congratulating rather than addressing issues.

In a political context, bird-dogging means attending an elected official's event and forcing them comment, state their stance or change it. It involves raising awareness about community issues, holding a wily politician to their word or pressuring them to make a commitment. Using succinct, pointed questions bird-doggers force politicians to get on the record about a certain issue. This can provide fodder for alternative journalists, who can produce stories on the subject and expose the official to other citizens. This guide includes:

Finding officials

Questions to ask



Finding officials

The best way to figure out where and when officials will be speaking is to sign up with their email lists, newsletters, add them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. Stay up to date with events run by politically affiliated campus group (Young Conservatives) and local news. Finding and befriending members of alternative media can be extremely helpful in the long run. Journalists can give insider information, arrange for press passes for bloggers and ask questions specific questions when citizens are barred from doing so.

It's also a good idea to organize your own political forum. Creating a panel of activists and politicians can not only create an interesting debate but really draw attention to a specific issue. Community pressure can force some politicians to show up, so advertise heavily.

Questions to ask

Arrive early and have questions ready before the event. Everyone else will be thinking about the questions they want to ask while you will be ready. This can help you be one of the firsts to speak if there is a question-answer period. Sit up front and raise your hand often.

Questions should be fact based and direct. Learn the official's political positions and bring them up. For example:

More than 30 million people worldwide are infected with HIV/AIDS, 90% of whom are in developing countries. Would you support cancelling the debt of countries where more than 5% of their populations are infected with HIV and using that money for stopping or slowing the spread of this disease?


Record the official's answer, either with a digital recorder or write it down. Make contact with alternative and mainstream journalists, who often want to talk to people who have asked questions. Media attention is what keeps the pressure on politicians.
Self publish the official's response in your zine or newsletter or on your blog or tweet it. Get it out to other activists.


Bring a posse. It can be intimidating to call out politicians and the more activists at the event, the more you can co-ordinate follow up questions. 

If it's election season, grab a bunch of people and follow politicians around, bringing up your issue. Your activism will become a story within itself for the media, attracting even more attention to your cause.


Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable. has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.