MP Kennedy Stewart (Burnaby – Douglas) made the following statement following the adoption of his motion on electronic petitions:
“At a time when more and more Canadians are feeling left out of the political process, it is encouraging that MPs from all parties put aside partisan differences and agreed to improve grassroots democracy. My motion passed today represents an important first step towards modernizing our longstanding practice of citizens petitioning their government.
Currently, only paper petitions can be accepted in the House of Commons. Online petitions receiving thousands of signatures from Canadians cannot be submitted and often go unanswered. The NDP believes this system needs to be brought into the 21st century through electronic petitioning – as has already been done successfully in several provinces and numerous other countries.
My motion also proposes that short debates be triggered in Parliament in cases where a petition receives a significant number of signatures and is sponsored by at least five MPs. Not only would Canadians be able to easily express themselves by signing petitions online, their views and concerns could then be directly addressed by Members of Parliament. New Democrats are committed to empowering everyday Canadians to set the political agenda in Ottawa.
A Parliamentary committee will now study this issue over the next year and develop recommendations for how to best implement e-petitioning. I would like to thank my colleagues for their commitment, those civil society leaders who endorsed my motion, as well all Canadians who signed a petition to show their support.”