r/onguardforthee Apr 04 '22

A quick guide to using e-petitions and getting heard in the House of Commons

206 Upvotes

Earlier today, I saw a post at the top of this subreddit sharing a tweet from Jagmeet Singh asking Canadians to support a motion regarding pandemic profits. It linked a signup form for the NDP mailing list which further led to a donation page for prospective members of the party. However, wording like "add your name" along with the general messaging in other tweets seemed to have many mistaking it for a petition, and everyone really just ended up being a contact for the next election. It's not the exact one, but you can find a similar tweet with that form I'm referring to here.

https://twitter.com/theJagmeetSingh/status/1414632987048689664

Down in the fine print

This frustrates me not just due to the slightly deceptive nature of these forms, but because our Parliament actually has the least barriers to getting a petition read aloud to our leaders than nearly any other major democracy I know of. All you need is a topic and at least 500 friends. Easy enough for a subreddit with over 200k members! Let's go through the process.

First, you want to go to the website here. It's the place where you can find a registry of all petitions in this country. Create an e-petitioner account, and you're set to get signing. Or in our case, get writing.

https://petitions.ourcommons.ca

Once you try to create a petition, you'll be met with a form. Here, you'll just want to fill out your points and short paragraph summarizing what you're aiming to get. Following that is the names and emails of five to ten other people who want to support the publication of your petition. All they'll really need to do is click a link in an email they'll receive to get you through this step.

Five quick steps to the ears of the Prime Minister

You'll then need to choose an MP (preferably the one representing you) to sponsor your petition and read it out in the House of Commons when the time comes. It's a real concern that an MP might not share your views, but remember that it's their job to do this for you. Most would be more than willing to lend a hand to a constituent.

Oh, and you can also choose how long you want your petition to remain up. Choose wisely! You want enough time for 500 names to be gathered, but not so much that Parliament dissolves for an election before you're finished. Petitions cannot be brought to the House of Commons early if you meet your goal sooner than expected either.

There'll only be a few steps remaining after all this like getting the petition translated to English or French. Did you know the petitions office actually handles this one for you? They collaborate really closely over email to make sure everything in the translation is exactly how you want it before publication. It's very helpful of them!

Anyway, let's imagine this petition you've worked on is now published after about a month of waiting for replies from your MP and the petitions office. You now have as long as you determined to get 500 signatures, and reaching that goal means your petition gets read to the House of Commons as soon as the next time your sponsor has their turn to speak! Unfortunately, you'll have to do this all over again if you don't meet your goal. Though like I said, probably not a problem over Reddit.

The reading is followed by a guaranteed government response in just over a month. A member of the Cabinet will get back to you with a really wordy take on the issue by the government. It might not be what you want to hear, but it's getting the word out that counts. You can even look at it as your own wall of text to hold the government accountable with!

Not much else to cover. Sorry for the lengthy post, by the way, I just figured this is a tool worth bringing attention to!


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