Federal Paper Petitions- The Rules

A petition is used to draw attention to an issue of public interest and requests the government to take a specific action. Only a Member of Parliament (MP) can present a petition to the House of Commons (the House). 

You must submit your petition to an MP of your choice and ask them to present the petition in the House of Commons. You can make this request of any MP. The MP does not have to represent your electoral district. In accepting to present a petition, the MP does not necessarily endorse the views or information set out in the petition.

Who can sign a paper petition:

  • There is no minimum age requirement to sign a petition. Young adults and children old enough to sign their name and write their address can sign a petition!
  • If a person cannot sign their own name because of illness or a disability, this must be noted on the petition and the note signed by a witness.
  • Someone who does not have a fixed address must state this on the petition. No additional contact information, such as a telephone number or email address, is required.

In order to be certified, a paper petition must:

  • Contain at least 25 original signatures with valid addresses of Canadian citizens or residents written on the petition (we suggest you collect at least 30 to 35, as some of the signatories may be disqualified if the address does not clearly describe where they reside.
  • have at least 3 valid signatures and addresses on the first page after the full text of the petition. The use of any address format on a paper petition is acceptable, as long as it clearly establishes the place where a signatory resides.
  • Include the subject matter of the petition (known at the ‘prayer’, or what the petition is calling for) on each subsequent page. 
  • Be printed on paper no smaller than 5.5” x 8.5” and no larger than 11” x 17”.
  • Be free of any information attached or appended or written or printed on the petition.

A paper petition must not:

  • Mention the person or organization initiating the paper petition (which is different than e-petitions where an e-petitioner is identified).
  • Be dated or have any identifying logo.
  • Contain signatures that are photocopied, pasted, taped, or otherwise transferred to it.
  • Contain alterations to the text of the petition after it’s been signed.
  • Include any attachments or appendices or any other supporting materials (such as images, maps, or news articles) or any oterh request for support.
  • Be printed on the back of another document.

Paper Petition for a Basic Income Guarantee Demonstration Project in PEI 

We have a template for this petition you can use. It has been reviewed by the Clerk of Petitions and follows all formatting and content rules.

What happens after you submit your signed paper petition to an MP?

Certification: Once a paper petition has been signed and sent to the MP who intends to present it, the MP must send it to the Clerk of Petitions to certify that it is admissible (meets all form and content rules) and has at least 25 original signatures with valid addresses. A petition submitted for certification which does not meet the requirements will be returned to the MP with an explanation.

Presentation of a Paper Petition to the House of Commons: When the MP presents the petition, a record of the petition appears in the Journals for that day and the text of the petition, along with the total number of signatures, is published on the Petitions website. The names and contact information of the petitioner and the signatories will not be made public.

Government Responses to Petitions: The government is required to respond to every petition presented in the House of Commons within 45 calendar days. If the House is not sitting on that day, the response must be presented at the next sitting of the House. A government response to each petition will be posted on the Petitions website along with the petition as soon as possible after the response has been formally presented (tabled) in the House of Commons.

At prorogation (the period between two sessions of a Parliament), any outstanding government responses to petitions presented in the previous session will be tabled in the subsequent session. At the dissolution of Parliament (the period after a general election between the end of a Parliament and the start of a new Parliament) the obligation for the government to respond to petitions presented to Parliament ends. A paper petition that was certified but not presented in one Parliament can be sent to a member in the next Parliament for presentation when the House of Commons resumes sitting.

Terms of Use and Privacy of Personal Information: The MP presenting a petition does not necessarily endorse the views or information it contains. A petition must not be promoted by using the MP’s name without their written consent. Once the MP has sent a paper petition to the Clerk of Petitions for certification, only House of Commons’ authorized personnel will have access to personal information as written on the paper petition, which will not be shared or publicly disclosed.

See the Government of Canada’s Guide and terms of use for paper petitions

Creating Your Paper Petition- Format and Content

If you prefer to draft your own petition: A petition must meet certain requirements established by the rules and practices of the House. The Clerk of Petitions, a non-partisan House of Commons employee, is responsible for certifying that the requirements have been met. We urge you to follow the Guide and terms of use for paper petitions and submit a draft of your petition (without signatures) to the Clerk of Petitions (PMB-AED@parl.gc.ca) to ensure it is correctly worded and formatted before you ask people to sign your petition. In brief:

  • A petition must concern a subject that is within the authority of the Government of Canada. A petition must not concern a purely provincial or municipal matter. A petition may not concern a matter that is the subject of legal proceedings or currently before the courts.
  • The text must request that the federal government take some concrete action to remedy a concern. It must be clear, direct, respectful, and be phrased as a request, not as a demand. The petition may also include a detailed description of the concern.