Online Petitions in the House of Commons

Justin Reist
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WHEREAS petitioning represents an important tool for citizens to influence their public officials; WHEREAS the House of Commons does not currently accept petitions in electronic format; WHEREAS the submission of petitions via the Internet in addition to physical copies has been effectively implemented in the Quebec National Assembly; WHEREAS online tools have the potential to make the political arena more accessible to citizens by removing barriers such as physical access to MPs and available personal time; and WHEREAS an online system would provide a definitive area for interested citizens to find educational information and foster collaboration in attaining shared goals;
BE IT RESOLVED that the Green Party of Canada will seek to implement an online forum as part of the House of Commons’ web site that allows for the submission and signing of petitions. In doing so, best practices from the Quebec National Assembly and the White House will be taken into consideration in order to meet the needs of the House of Commons; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that physical copies of petitions submitted to MPs may still be presented in the House of Common abiding by current rules and procedures.
Young Greens Canada / Jenues verts
Currently, the House of Commons only accepts petitions presented by Members of Parliament on behalf of citizens that are “handwritten, typed, printed or photocopied on sheets of paper of usual size.” While this requirement attempts to ensure that petitions are orderly, easily understood and uniform, it excludes petitions submitted electronically. By limiting petitions to hard copies, this system creates several barriers to participation such as overcoming geographical distance to sign physical copies, increased dedication of personal time and more. Opening up the petitioning process is an important step in keeping politicians accountable and having the voices of Canadians heard in Parliament. Modern online petitioning systems have been implemented by the Quebec National Assembly and the US White House with much success. Both systems continue to allow for physical copies to be submitted. In an age where Internet access is a vital tool for political participation, it is time for the House of Commons to modernize to meet this new reality. Implementing an online petition system for the House of Commons will help make government more accessible and accountable. This initiative adheres to Green principles of open government and grassroots democracy as it facilitates the voicing of public opinion to elected representatives.