How to petition the House of Commons
Electronic Petitions – the Guide to Creating and Submitting a Petition
Should you wish to create a petition directly with the House of Commons, please follow the website and the instructions below.
Creating an Account
Note: A petitioner may only have one e-petition open for signature in his or her name at any one time.
The first step towards creating an e-petition is to create an account on the petitions website.
In addition to providing a valid e-mail address and choosing a password, a petitioner must provide the following contact information:
- country and province or territory;
- postal code; and
- telephone number.
You may not use an e-mail address or a device with an IP address associated with the Government of Canada or the Parliament of Canada to create an account.
Once your contact information has been submitted, a message with an embedded hyperlink will automatically be sent to your e-mail address, prompting you to confirm the creation of your account.
Creating a Petition – Format and Content
Now that you have created an account, you may begin to draft a petition. A standardized template to assist you in your drafting is provided on the website; see also Appendix A “Sample Format for an Electronic Petition” below. Please note the following guidelines for composing the text of a petition:
The petition must be addressed to one of the following:
- “the House of Commons” or “the House of Commons in Parliament assembled”;
- “the Government of Canada”;
- a Minister of the Crown; or
- a Member of the House of Commons.
When creating a new petition, you will need to compose a text of no more than 250 words. The text of a petition is essentially a request, also called a “prayer”, that the addressee take or to avoid some concrete action in order to remedy a grievance.
The petition may also include a more detailed description of the grievance or a statement of opinion, but these alone cannot be received as a petition; a concrete, specific request must be included. The request must be clear and to the point, and phrased as a request and not as a demand.
The text of your e-petition may not include a URL, any other link or web-based reference. Any petition that includes such links will be rejected.
The petition must be respectful, use temperate language, and not contain improper or unparliamentary language. In particular, it should not contain disrespectful or offensive language with respect to the Crown, Parliament, or the courts. It may not include charges made against the character or conduct of Parliament, the courts, or any other duly-constituted authority. The e-petition must be written in either English or French.
Subject of the Petition
The petition must concern a subject that is 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.
The petition may not concern a matter that is sub judice, i.e. a matter that is the subject of legal proceedings or currently before the courts.
Steps to Have an E-petition Published
Before you begin collecting signatures from the general public, the three steps listed below must be completed. You will receive an e-mail advising you when the petition progresses through each step.
- Identify Supporters
- When you draft your petition, you will be prompted to identify at least five potential supporters, but no more than ten, and provide their e-mail addresses.
- A supporter is a resident of Canada or a citizen of Canada living either in Canada or abroad, who supports the ideas and proposals set out in your petition and who signifies his or her support before it is sent to an MP.
- A supporter may be a friend, colleague, neighbour, or any eligible person who is willing to sign your petition. You may not act as a supporter for your own petition.
- An e-mail address associated with the Government of Canada or the Parliament of Canada may not be provided as contact information for supporters.
- The first five supporters to back your petition will be automatically added as signatories to the petition if and when it is posted for signature online. They will receive e-mail updates concerning the petition’s progress through the various stages. The agreement of five supporters is required before you can proceed to step 2.
- Invite a Member of Parliament to Authorize the Online Publication of the E-petition
- During the process of creating your e-petition, you will need to select a Member of Parliament to authorize its online publication.
- The Member of Parliament need not be the Member who represents the petitioners’ or signatories’ constituencies in the House of Commons.
- Once your petition is sent to a prospective Member for consideration, the MP will have 30 days to make a decision. If they have not responded within 30 days or refuse the request, you will be prompted to invite another MP to carry out this role. You will have a total of five such opportunities, if necessary.
- The MP whom you identify to authorize the online publication of the e-petition, or his or her delegate, will be provided with your contact information and may contact you by email or by telephone to exchange some thoughts before responding to your request. In accepting to authorize its online publication, a Member is not necessarily agreeing with the opinions or request set out in the e-petition.
- In the event the MP you identified ceases to be a Member before an e-petition is published on the website, the Clerk of Petitions will contact the petitioner and invite him or her to select another Member.
- A Member of Parliament who authorizes the online publication of an e-petition is not permitted to rescind his or her decision.
- Examination by Clerk of Petitions
- Once an MP has agreed to authorize the online publication of your e-petition, it will be examined by the Clerk of Petitions to ensure that its form and content respect the rules and practices of the House. This includes validating your signature and those of the supporters.
- If the petition meets the requirements, it will be translated and published on the petitions website for signature by the general public. This step will be done on a first-come, first-served basis and will generally be completed within three to five working days from when the Member authorizes the petition for online publication.
- If the text does not meet the set requirements, the Clerk of Petitions will contact the petitioner via e-mail, explaining the grounds for rejection. A copy of this e-mail will also be sent to the five supporters and to the MP who authorized the online publication of the e-petition. The petitioner may then decide to amend the text of his or her petition, but the submission process has to start anew.
Petition Available to be Signed by the Public
Once the petition has been published on the petitions website, it is available to be signed by the public. The “signature” consists of providing one’s name and some basic contact information. The Clerk of Petitions has the right to reject any signatures of which the validity is in doubt. Please note the following with regard to signatures:
- Signatures of non-citizens who are not resident in Canada are not counted.
- There is no minimum age requirement to sign a petition.
- The information supplied must include the signatory’s:
- unique e-mail address (an e-mail address may only be associated with one signatory);
- country and, if within Canada, postal code and province or territory; and
- telephone number.
An e-petition will remain open for signatures for 30, 60, 90, or 120 days, as determined by the e-petitioner when the petition was created. To receive final certification, an e-petition must receive a minimum of 500 valid signatures during this period. If an e-petition has not garnered the minimum number of signatures by then, it will proceed no further, but will remain visible online.
In the event an e-petition is published and open for signature and the MP who authorized its online publication ceases to be a Member, you will be invited to select a new Member of Parliament, but this is not a requirement.
Certification and Presentation of a Petition
Once the deadline for signing a petition has closed, the Clerk of Petitions will proceed with a final validation of signatures and will issue a certificate that includes the text of the petition and the total number of signatures, provided that at least 500 valid signatures are present. This certificate will be forwarded to the MP who authorized the online publication of the e-petition and it can then be presented either by this MP or by another MP in the House. A record of this presentation will appear in the Journals for that day and you, the supporters and the signatories of the petition will be advised by e-mail.