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
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.
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.
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 of the 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.
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. For paper petitions, this may be either the full home address, or the city and province, or the province and postal code. 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.
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 134-C, Centre Block
House of Commons