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Government of Canada e-Petitions

On December 4, 2015, the Parliament of Canada announced an electronic petition system called e-petitions which will allow Canadians to submit and sign petitions to the Parliament of Canada online via an electronic form.  This move follows moves by the United States and United Kingdom to introduce electronic means of petitioning the Government.

The new system can be accessed via a relatively straightforward Parliament of Canada e-Petition website.  The site is accompanied by a PDF Technical Guide for e-Petitioners.

The signature threshold involved remains at the quite low 500 signatories required for the petition to proceed and be forwarded to the sponsoring MP to be presented in the house.  As per the Standing Orders, the Government must respond to all petitions presented within 45 days.

This all seems extremely reasonable and a welcome step forward into the digital age.  Some comments from me, the peanut gallery:

  • Let’s make a video tutorial, or at the very least a clear and concise web-page on how to use the e-Petition site. The current PDF doesn’t really mesh with the clean modern Web 2.0 looking e-Petition site and isn’t particularly great at conveying the information
  • Let’s make the e-Petition process clearer and more evident.  The Guide for e-Petitioners is long and hidden on a tertiary page.  A great brief overview of the thresholds and process on the main page would go a long way to simplifying use and having users engage with the new product rather than put it off until a later date.  Both the UK and US versions clearly cover the process and thresholds on the front page.
  • Finally, I’m interested to look back at this in a year’s time and see how we’re doing.  The success of an electronic petition mechanism lies partially in the implementation and partially (and most importantly) in the responsiveness of the Government to the petitions put forward.

Those minor points aside, I think this is an amazing move forward and I look forward to following it’s growth and development.

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