As outsiders are not permitted to address
the House directly, petitions must be presented by Members. Therefore, groups
and individuals with petitions for the House must enlist the aid of Members to
have their petitions certified and presented. Members are not bound to present
petitions and cannot be compelled to do so;
nevertheless, it is evident that many Members consider it a duty to present to
the House petitions brought forward by citizens.
The Member, whose role it is to make the presentation on behalf of the
petitioners, is not required to be in agreement with the content of any
petition he or she may choose to present, and no such inference is to be drawn.
Once they have been certified by the Clerk
of Petitions, petitions are ready for presentation to the House and are
returned to the Members who submitted them. A certified petition is not to be
altered or tampered with in any way; nor is the certificate to be removed. No
rule or practice specifies a time period during which a petition must be
presented following its certification; nor must a petition necessarily be
presented by the Member who had it certified.
The Speaker has observed that various reasons might prevent a Member from
presenting a certified petition expeditiously, but has also found merit in the
view that petitions ought to be presented promptly after certification so that
petitioners may have confidence that petitions brought to the House are
answered as quickly as possible.
Petitions are presented by Members,
The Speaker traditionally does not present petitions, but instead asks the assistance
of another Member to do so. This practice originated in the British House of Commons
of the late eighteenth century, a time when petitions were routinely debated.
Presenting petitions would have led to the Speaker participating in the
proceedings of the House, which would have been at odds with the essential
neutrality of the Chair.
In choosing to present a petition, a Member must be satisfied of its fitness
and regularity, for it is a long‑standing rule of the House that the
Member is answerable for any improprieties and impertinences therein.
In addition, the Member presenting a petition must endorse it (i.e., sign the
back of the petition, or the back of the first page).
Certified petitions may be presented in two
ways: orally during Routine Proceedings
or by filing them with the Clerk of the House during any sitting of the House.
In practice, the majority of petitions are presented during Routine
Certified petitions are presented daily during
Routine Proceedings, under the rubric “Presenting Petitions”. A maximum of 15
minutes is provided for the presentation of petitions. To be recognized,
Members must be in their assigned places.
Members with more than one petition to present on a given day are advised to
present them all when given the floor, as individual Members are recognized by
the Chair only once during “Presenting Petitions”. The Chair has on
occasion limited the number of petitions presented at one time by a single
Member to five.
This allows more Members to be recognized within the 15‑minute time
No debate is permitted during the
presentation of petitions.
Any comment on the merits of a petition—even a Member’s personal agreement or
disagreement with the petitioners—has been deemed to constitute a form of
debate and is therefore out of order.
Members are permitted a brief factual statement, in the course of which they
may allude to the petition being duly certified, to its source, to the subject
matter of the petition and its prayer, and the number of signatures it carries.
In any event, petitions are not to be read in their entirety and Members
presenting them should avoid straying into debate or argument. In view of the
limited time available and of the number of Members with petitions to present
on any given day, the Chair is generally quick to intervene when Members appear
to be making speeches, indulging in debate, or launching on the lengthy reading
of the full text of a petition.
Since 1910, Members have had the option of
presenting petitions at any time during a sitting of the House, by filing them
with the Clerk of the House.
The Member may approach the Table, or may hand the certified and endorsed (with
a signature on the back of the petition or on the back of the first page)
petition to a page, with instructions to deliver it to the Table where it is
received by the Clerk or by a Table Officer on behalf of the Clerk.
When petitions are presented during Routine
Proceedings, the Members’ remarks are recorded, transcribed and published in
the Debates for that day. An entry is also made in the Journals,
the official record of House proceedings. The petitions are listed as having
been certified correct and presented pursuant to the Standing Orders. Petitions
filed with the Clerk are not mentioned in the Debates, but they are
listed in the Journals. Certified petitions once presented to the House
(by either method) are forwarded to the Privy Council Office, which is
responsible for their reception and processing. The petitions ultimately end up
in the Library and Archives Canada collection.
Petitions have been presented which were
later found to be uncertified; in such cases, while the Debates contain
the transcription of the Members’ remarks, the petitions in question are not
recorded in the Journals.
They are examined by the Clerk of Petitions; if in order, they are certified
and then filed with the Clerk on the Member’s behalf; only then is the
presentation noted in the Journals. If the petitions cannot be
certified, they are returned to the Members. On one occasion, a Member who
attempted to present an uncertified petition was called to order and admonished
by the Chair.
Anyone who wishes to read or consult a
petition after it has been presented may do so by making arrangements with
one’s Member of Parliament. The Privy Council Office will produce a photocopy
of a petition, including the signatures, for the Member who presented the same
to the House of Commons, while it will produce a photocopy of a petition,
excluding the signatures, for any other Member.
 Bourinot, 4th ed., p. 232.
 See, for example, the general discussion on petitions on
February 13, 1990 (Debates, pp. 8233‑42). In presenting
petitions, Members occasionally make reference to their “duty” in this regard (Debates,
December 1, 1981, p. 13549; October 20, 1989, p. 4953;
March 14, 1994, p. 2226).
 Debates, November 25, 1986,
pp. 1501, 1505; February 25, 1994, pp. 1863‑4.
 See Debates, October 21, 1997, p. 878; June 12, 2003, pp. 7222-3
(petitions presented on behalf of a Member who had resigned).
 Debates, May 28, 1987, pp. 6500‑1;
September 22, 1987, p. 9172; March 8, 1988, p. 13490.
 See, for example, Debates, December 12, 1991,
p. 6176; Journals, March 24, 2005,
p. 570; October 18, 2005, p. 1170; June 5, 2007,
p. 1477; April 10, 2008, p. 693.
 Bourinot, 4th ed., p. 231.
See also Debates, April 23, 1879, pp. 1453‑4;
March 23, 1987, pp. 4433‑4. Other Presiding Officers have
presented petitions. See, for example, Journals, October 26, 1994,
p. 829 (Bob Kilger, Assistant Deputy Chairman of Committees of the Whole);
June 19, 1995, p. 1784 (Shirley Maheu, Deputy Chairman of Committees
of the Whole); February 9, 2005, p. 408
(Chuck Strahl, Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees
of the Whole).
 Standing Order 36(3). This has been part of the written rules since
 Standing Order 36(4).
 Standing Order 36(6).
 Standing Order 36(5).
 Statistics compiled by the Clerk of Petitions indicate that 1,684 of 1,804 petitions presented in the
First Session of the Thirty‑Ninth Parliament (2006-07) were presented
orally during Routine Proceedings.
 Standing Order 36(6). Rarely is the entire 15 minutes taken up. See,
for example, Debates, March 13, 1995, pp.10393‑6; December 12, 2002,
 Standing Order 36(6).
 Debates, October 28, 1983, p. 28457; June 11,
1985, p. 5649; November 7, 1986, pp. 1190‑1. Exceptionally, the
Speaker recognized Alexa McDonough (Halifax) twice during Routine Proceedings
on June 21, 2005 (Debates, pp. 7509-10), and Meili Faille
(Vaudreuil–Soulanges) twice during Routine Proceedings on June 6, 2007 (Debates,
 Debates, November 5, 1999, p. 1192.
 Standing Order 36(7).
 Debates, April 27, 1994,
p. 3576; June 22, 1995, p. 14413; November 4, 1996,
pp. 6068‑9; March 22, 2000, p. 5008; October 25, 2002,
p. 921; June 16, 2006, p. 2503. Members had been known to inform the
House of their personal views as they presented petitions. See, for example, Debates,
June 9, 1947, p. 3912; March 29, 1985, p. 3510;
April 26, 1994, p. 3483; February 4, 2004,
p. 113. In the latter case, the Deputy Speaker ruled that he would not
tolerate Members making comments about their own petitions, or about their
 Debates, April 26, 1989,
 See, for example, Debates, April 6, 1982,
p. 16198; March 14, 1990, p. 9284; September 16, 1991,
p. 2173; December 8, 1992, pp. 14806‑7; May 7, 1993,
pp. 19111‑2; September 28, 1998, p. 8474; May 13, 2004, p. 3117.
 Standing Order 36(5).
 On May 22, 1992, two Members presented petitions which were
not recorded in that day’s Journals (Journals, p. 1546, Debates,
 Debates, May 15, 1992, p. 10794.