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The Basics of Online Petitions

Updated on January 18, 2015

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Are They Valid?

There has been many debates about whether or not online petitions are valid in Canada.

The short answer is: Yes.

To clarify; "online" means on a reputable website.

Have you ever signed an online petition?

See results

Why Emails Don't Work

Email petitions are not recognized by authorities, because once they're let loose, no one is able to properly track of them. And, they never end, showing up in people's inboxes years after the issue has been settled.

What Makes It Legal?

Online petitions means there is only one copy of the petition collecting signatures. Electronic signatures are legally binding. For example, you have to "sign" an agreement to get on Facebook. By providing your real name, a valid email address, and putting a little check mark in a box next to the statement that you read and agree with the terms and conditions set out by Facebook, you are entering a legally binding contract.

Learn More

The key to a petition's success is how it is written. To learn how to write an effective petition, you can read my article, How to Write an Effective Petition.

Make Sure It's Legit

The people who sign online petitions can help make it more legitimate by using their real name and providing a valid email address. While it's not necessary to make the email address public, the creator of the petition does need to be able to include it in the petition going to the decision-maker as proof of validity.

Just as a hard copy petition requires valid contact information to prove that the names and signatures aren't fake, an online petition requires a valid email address to prove you are a real person.

What Else Can You Do to Encourage Change?

For those who feel the online petition is not enough, here are some other actions you can take:

  • Meeting with your MP
  • Writing a letter to your editor
  • Writing an option editorial
  • Sending a letter or calling to the decision-maker
  • Contacting the media
  • Call a talk show (radio or television)
  • Create a website or start a blog

© 2012 Rosa Marchisella


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    • I Am Rosa profile image

      Rosa Marchisella 2 years ago from Canada

      Hi Ptosis; Depends who you’re petitioning. Helpful, right? A lot of businesses and representatives will accept them, provided they’re properly formatted, clear and concise, and have the proper signatory information (name and contact) for confirmation of validity. I suggest making sure to use a site that allows the person in charge of the petition to print out a copy of the petition and signatory info.

      As for the Canadian government in specific, again – it depends. The Canadian House of Commons will have an e-petitions system in place on their website for the start of the next Parliament. Until then, hand-written petitions only. Quebec and the Northwest Territories already have an online petitions option available on their legislation website. The other provinces/territories have their own rules and I’m not sure if they will implement an e-petition systems in response to the House of Commons doing so.

    • ptosis profile image

      ptosis 2 years ago from Arizona

      So it's officially recognized in Canada?

      Currently, Arizona voters interested in assisting Statewide and Legislative candidates can now sign a petition electronically. Currently no state allows electronic signatures to be submitted for initiatives.