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Form and Content of Petitions—Guidelines

Before a petition can be presented by a Member, it must be examined to confirm that it meets certain requirements established by the rules and practices of the House. Two forms of public petitions are acceptable: paper petitions and electronic petitions. Before being presented in the House, a petition must first be certified by the Clerk of Petitions.

Form of a petition

Addressee

A petition must be addressed to one of the following:

Text

A petition must contain a request, sometimes also referred to as a prayer, 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.

The request should be clear and to the point.

The petition must not demand or insist that the addressee do something.

Language

A petition must be respectful, use temperate language, and not contain improper, disrespectful or unparliamentary language. In particular, there should be no disrespect shown to the Sovereign or charge made against the character or conduct of Parliament, the courts or any other duly constituted authority.

A petition must be written in one or both official languages.

Attachments, Appendices or Extraneous Material

A petition must be free of any appendices, attachments or lengthy extracts, whether in the form of additional documents, maps, pictures, logos, news articles, explanatory or supporting statements, or requests for support.

Additional instructions for paper petitions

The text of a paper petition must be written, typewritten or printed on paper no smaller than 14 cm x 21.5 cm (5.5 x 8.5 inches) and no larger than 28 cm x 43.25 cm (11 x 17 inches). A petition submitted on paper of smaller or larger size, or on any other material, is not acceptable.

The text of a petition must not be altered by erasing or crossing out words or by adding words or comments. Any alteration of this kind will make the petition unacceptable. Petitions printed on the reverse of a document (such as a parliamentary newsletter, householder or ten percenter) are not acceptable. If a paper petition consists of more than one sheet of signatures and addresses, the prayer or subject-matter of the petition must be indicated on every sheet.

Additional instructions for electronic petitions

The text of a petition must not exceed 250 words and must not include an URL (uniform resource locator). Electronic petitions remain open for signatures for 30, 60, 90, or 120 days, as determined by the e-petitioner when the petition was created. The prayer of an electronic petition cannot be the same or virtually the same as the prayer of another electronic petition currently posted and available for signature on the House of Commons website. The prayer of a petition will be considered essentially the same as that of another electronic petition if the grievance and remedy are essentially the same as those of another petition already available for signature.

Content

A petition must concern a subject within the authority of the Parliament of Canada, the House of Commons or the Government of Canada. A petition must not concern a purely provincial or municipal matter or any matter that should be brought before a court of law or a tribunal. A petition may include a request for the expenditure of public funds and cannot request an action that would have the addressee intervene in a matter currently before the courts.

Signatures and Addresses

To be certified, a paper petition must contain a minimum of 25 valid signatures with addresses, whereas an electronic petition must contain a minimum of 500 electronic signatures.

A petition should contain signatures of citizens or residents of Canada only. A petition signed exclusively by non-resident persons is not acceptable.

There is no minimum age requirement for anyone signing a petition.

Each petitioner must sign his or her own name. In the case of paper petitions, original signatures must be written directly on the document and not pasted, taped, photocopied or otherwise transferred to it. For electronic petitions, signatures are validated electronically prior to being counted towards the total number of signatures.

Signatories must also provide certain information regarding their address. The use of any address format on a paper petition is acceptable if it clearly establishes the place where a signatory resides. Someone who does not have a fixed address must state it on the petition. For electronic petitions, an e-mail address, full name, postal code and phone number must be provided.

A Member of the House of Commons may sign a petition but should ask another Member to present that petition. The signatures of Members inscribed on a petition are not counted towards the required 25 signatures for paper petitions or towards the 500 signatures required for electronic petitions.

Draft Petitions

Members of the public who wish to petition the House of Commons on a matter of public interest are advised to first submit a draft petition (without signatures) to a Member of Parliament to see whether it is correctly worded and whether the Member would agree to present it.

For further information

Clerk of Petitions
Private Members’ Business Office
Room 314-C, West Block
House of Commons
Tel 613-992-9511
Fax 613-947-7626

For additional information related to petitions, please consult the various guides available on the House of Commons website.

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