How to petition the House of Commons
If you have an idea for a petition on a matter that is important to you, this guide will help you to get started and to navigate the process before your petition can be signed.
Members of the public who wish to draft a petition for its presentation to the House of Commons are welcome to first submit a draft of the petition (without signatures) to a Member of Parliament to see whether it is correctly worded. Do not hesitate to contact our office for a preliminary verification.
Creating a Paper Petition – Form and Content
A suggested template for paper petitions to the House of Commons that satisfy the requirements below is set out at the end of this guide
A 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.
The text of a petition is essentially a request, also called a “prayer”, that the addressee take or to avoid a specific action, in order to remedy a grievance.
A petition may include a detailed description of the grievance or a statement of opinion but these alone cannot be received as a petition; a concrete and specific prayer must be included, clear and to the point, and phrased as a request, not as a demand.
If a petition is composed of more than one sheet of signatures and addresses, the prayer or subject matter of the petition must be indicated on every sheet.
Subject of a Petition
A 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.
A petition may not concern a matter that is sub judice, i.e., currently before the courts.
A 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. A petition must be written in either English or French.
Written, Typewritten or Printed on Paper
The text of a paper petition must be written, typewritten or printed on paper no smaller than 14 cm x 21.5 cm (Half Letter) and no larger than 28 cm x 43.25 cm (Ledger paper) to be accepted. Standard letter or legal sized paper are recommended.
Erasures or Interlineations
The text of a petition must not be altered either by erasing or crossing out words or by adding words or commentary. Any alteration will make the petition unacceptable.
Attachments, Appendices, or Extraneous Material
A petition must be free of any other matter attached or appended to, or written or printed on, the petition, e.g. additional documents, maps, pictures, logos, news articles, explanatory or supporting statements, or requests for support. A petition printed on the reverse of another document is not acceptable.
Signatures and Addresses
A paper petition must contain a minimum of 25 valid signatures with addresses. The signatures of non citizens who do not reside in Canada and who therefore cannot petition the House of Commons are not counted. If you anticipate that your petition will circulate outside of Canada, please make sure that your signatories are aware that they may only sign if they are either Canadian citizens, residents of Canada or Canadian citizens residing abroad.
There is no minimum age requirement for anyone signing a petition.
A petition must contain original signatures written directly on the document and not pasted, taped, photocopied, or otherwise transferred to it.
Each signatory must sign (not print) his or her name directly on the petition and must not sign for anyone else. If a person cannot sign his or her own name because of illness or a disability, this must be noted on the petition and the note signed by a witness.
The use of any address format on a paper petition is acceptable, as long as it clearly establishes the place where a signatory resides. Someone who does not have a fixed address must state it on the petition. Additional contact information, such as telephone numbers or email addresses, is not required.
Some signatures with addresses must appear on the very first sheet with the text of the petition. Signatures and addresses may appear on the reverse sides of pages.
Sample template of an acceptable petition
We, the undersigned (Identify the petitioners in general terms, for example: electors of an electoral district, residents of the City or Village, or Township, of …), draw the attention of (suggestions: the House of Commons / the House of Commons in Parliament assembled/ the Government of Canada/ name of a Minister/ or name of a Member of Parliament) to the following:
THAT, GIVEN (Optional)
- (Here, you may include bullet points to state briefly the reasons underlying your request by summarizing the facts which you wish the addressee to consider.)
THEREFORE, your petitioners … (suggestion: request/ call upon) … (suggestion: the House of Commons, the House of Commons in Parliament assembled, the Government of Canada, name of a Minister, or name of a Member of Parliament) to … (Set out the prayer by stating succinctly what action you wish the addressee to take or refrain from taking).
(After the prayer, include a table with 2 columns (one for “Signatures” and one for “Addresses”) and several rows large enough to allow a person to sign. The table may look like this and some signatures must be on the first page.)
Subsequent pages of the petition
(Repeat the prayer from the first page at the top of each subsequent page or the subject matter of your petition. NOTE: The text of the prayer must be the same on each page. Add a table for signatures and addresses, as on the first page, with as many rows as can fit on the page.)