A petition is a useful tool that draws attention to a concern or issue to the government with the intention that action be taken to address the particular problem. It is one of the most direct methods to communicate with parliament or any authoritative body.
Guidelines, Rules and Procedures
- Petitioners cannot directly petition the House of Commons. Only a Member of Parliament can present a petition to the House. Petitioners must send their petition to a Member of Parliament with a request to present it.
- Members of the public are advised to first submit a draft petition without signatures to ensure correct wording and to see whether or not a Member would agree to present it.
- Before a Member can present a petition in the House, it must first be certified to ensure that its form and content are correct. Members of Parliament send petitions to the Clerk of Petitions for certification.
- A certified and endorsed petition is presented in the House of Commons during Routine Proceedings when the Speaker announces “Presenting Petitions”. A maximum time of 15 minutes is granted each day to present petitions.
- A petition must contain a request for the addressee to take some action (or refrain from taking some action) to remedy a grievance. A petition may also include a more detailed description of the grievance and/or a statement of opinion; however, a statement of grievance or opinion alone cannot be received as a petition. It must be clear and to the point, not insist or demand the addressee do something and may include a return address.
- The text of a petition must be handwritten, typed, printed or photocopied on sheets of paper of usual size, i.e. measuring 21.5 cm x 28 cm (8 ½ x 11 inches) or 21.5 cm x 35.5 cm (8 ½ x 14 inches). A petition submitted on paper of irregular size or on any other material, is unacceptable. If there is more than one page, the subject must be written on each page.
- The petition must be written in one or both official languages. It must be respectful, use moderated language, and not contain improper or unparliamentary language.
- There must be no modifications to the petition, including: erasing, crossing out words or adding words or commentary. If the petition is altered in any way it will not be certified.
- Do not attach any other documents to the petition (such as maps, pictures, articles or supporting testimony).
- The petition must concern a subject within the authority of the Parliament of Canada (federal government.) It should not concern of purely provincial or municipal government matters.
- A petition may include a request for the expenditure of public funds.
- A petition must contain a minimum of 25 valid signatures with addresses. A petition should contain signatures of residents of Canada only. (Each petitioner must sign, not print, his or her own name directly on the petition and must not sign for anyone else). There is no minimum age requirement to sign a petition. A petition must contain original signatures written directly on the document and not be glued, taped, photocopied or otherwise transferred to it. Members of the House of Commons may sign a petition but their signatures do not count towards the 25 signatures and addresses.
- A petition must be addressed to one of the following:
- The House of Commons;
- The House of Commons in Parliament assembled;
- The Government of Canada;
- A Minister of the Crown; or
- A Member of the House of Commons.
- There are no debates over the petition when it is presented. The Member of Parliament may make a brief statement based on the facts, referring to the petition being duly certified, to its source, to the subject matter of the petition and its request, and the number of signatures it carries. Petitions are not to be read in their entirety. The statement is reproduced in Hansard, the official record of the debates, and a record of the petition appears in the Journals for that day.
- The Government should respond within 45 calendar days to every petition submitted.
Be Patient, petitioning is a process that can take time.
For more information please refer to the House of Commons of Canada Petitions Practical Guide available on the Parliament of Canada’s website:
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