Preparing and Submitting Petitions


A petition is a good tool for a straightforward issue that has widespread support. There are fifteen minutes set aside daily in the House of Commons for petitions to be read. There is no debate following the reading of the petition, but the government is required to respond to your petition within 45 days. Your petition could spark interest among Members of Parliament or it could influence a debate already occurring in the House of Commons.

General Guidelines for Petitions

  • The petition statement should be clear and concise.
  • Begin the statement with a phrase like: We the undersigned hereby affirm…
  • Keep it as short as possible, while laying out your concerns.
  • Start with general principles and progressively get more specific, ending with your requests.
  • Make sure that the petition statement appears on each page of the petition

Specifics for Official Petitions to Parliament

  • Note that certification usually takes three to five working days, and that petitions cannot be certified during an election period.
  • Address it to the House of Commons (not the Prime Minister or any individual MP).
  • Use a standard paper size (8 ½ x 11 inches or 8 ½ by 14 inches).
  • Do not attach any other documents to the petition or print the petition on the reverse of another document.
  • The petition must address an issue that is under federal jurisdiction and must ask the government to take or not take a specific action.
  • It must contain a minimum of 25 Canadians’ signatures.  Each signature should be accompanied by the signatory’s city and province of residence.
  • There is no minimum age requirement for signing a petition.
Go Deeper: Official Guidelines for Petitions. For questions about petitioning the federal government, call the Clerk of Petitions in Ottawa at (613) 992-9511 or visit the House of Commons Petition Guide.
Keep in MindKeep in Mind: Perseverance. Do not be discouraged when you do not see immediate results. Political change is often gradual and comes when many citizens make continual contributions to the process.

An MP must first submit any petition to the Clerk of Petitions before it is read in the House of Commons. The form and content of the petition is examined to ensure it meets Parliamentary specifications.  If the petition does not meet these standards, it cannot be read for the record. Therefore, it is important to follow the guidelines for an official petition to Parliament.  You can send a draft petition (without signatures) to a MP to ensure that it is correctly worded and to find out if they are willing to read it in the House.

Keep in MindKeep in Mind: Using Your Petition.

  • Bring your petition to events where you expect there will be people who support it.
  • Follow-up is important because it demonstrates that there is real commitment behind the signatures. Encourage signatories to write, call, or visit MPs to explain why they signed the petition.
  • Any MP can present a petition in the House on any topic. Some MPs have a policy of presenting any petition brought to them by constituents.
  • The Governments must respond to each petition within 45 calendar days of its presentation. If this fails to occur, the Member who has presented the petition designates a committee of the House to look into the reasons why it was not responded to.
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