A “supporter” is a resident of Canada or a citizen of Canada living either in Canada or abroad, who indicates support for the ideas and proposals set out in a petition prior to its being sent to a Member of Parliament to be authorized for publication on the House of Commons petition website for signature by the general public. In the case of electronic petitions, the “signature” consists of providing some basic contact information. If you have been asked to support a petition, and would like more information, please read on.
A petition is used to draw attention to an issue of public interest or concern and to request that the House of Commons, the Government of Canada, a Minister of the Crown, or a Member of the House of Commons take some action. A person preparing and submitting such a request is known as a petitioner.
Petitioners cannot directly present a petition to the House of Commons; only a Member of Parliament is able to do so. In order to have an e-petition posted on the House of Commons petition website and eventually presented in the House, it must be authorized for online publication by a Member.
A petition must also meet certain requirements established by the rules and practices of the House. The Clerk of Petitions, a non-partisan House of Commons employee, holds the authority to certify that these requirements have been met.
This guide focuses on what is involved in supporting an electronic petition (“e-petition”) prior to its publication on the petitions website. To learn more about creating and submitting an e-petition, or about signing an e-petition that has been published, see the guides entitled Electronic Petitions – Guide for Creating and Submitting a Petition and Electronic Petitions – Guide for Signatories. For paper petitions, see the guide entitled Paper Petitions – Guide for the Public.
An e-petition consists of a text of no more than 250 words addressed to the House of Commons (sometimes addressed as “the House of Commons in Parliament assembled”), the Government of Canada, a Minister of the Crown, or a Member of the House of Commons.
It must contain a clear request (not a demand), also called a “prayer”, for some concrete action (either to do something or to refrain from doing something) to remedy a grievance.
A petition must be written in English or French, must be respectful, use temperate language, and may 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. An e-petition must concern a subject that is within the authority of the Parliament of Canada, the House of Commons, or the Government of Canada. It may not concern a purely provincial or municipal matter, or any matter that is sub judice, i.e. a matter that is the subject of legal proceedings or currently before the courts.
Once a petitioner has submitted a draft e-petition, it can only proceed through the subsequent steps if it obtains the electronic support of five eligible signatories, known as supporters. A petitioner may not also act as a supporter for their own e-petition.
Under no circumstances is the personal information of supporters or signatories made available to the petitioner, to the MP who authorized the online publication of the e-petition or to the general public. Supporters and signatories’ contact information is made available to the Clerk of Petitions to validate signatories’ identities and protect the integrity of the petition process. Data may also be used by the Clerk of Petitions for statistical purposes. Personal information about supporters collected through the petition website is destroyed at regular intervals.
Clerk of Petitions
Room 314-C, West Block
House of Commons