What’s the difference between ARCC’s paper and online petitions?

April 17, 2012

Only paper petitions with handwritten signatures that conform to these Parliamentary requirements can be officially certified and presented in Parliament by an MP. However, many MPs recognize that these rules are antiquated (other governments are increasingly allowing online petitions) and they will support online petitions in different ways, such as mentioning them in the House or asking people to sign them. Further, ARCC has maximized the credibility of our online petition by ensuring that it conforms to all Parliamentary requirements for official petitions, except for not having handwritten signatures.

ARCC’s online and paper petitions are complementary and serve different, valid purposes. ARCC is using the online petition as a tool to broaden public awareness about Motion 312 and its dangers, gather support and solidarity, and bring peoples’ attention to other tools and campaigns against the motion in order to deepen peples’ involvement. In addition, our plans for the online petition include: 

  • Issuing a press release April 25 with the petition results so far and sending it to all MPs as well as media.
  • Asking opposition MPs to mention the petition and its signers during the 1-hour debate on April 26.
  • Attempting to find an opposition MP willing to ‘unofficially’ present the online petition in Parliament before the vote, even though it can’t be certified.
  • A week before the vote (in June or early fall), printing off and sending the entire petition, complete with signers’ comments, to Prime Minister Harper, MP Stephen Woodworth, and opposition party leaders.
  • A day or so before the vote, holding a press conference in Ottawa to announce the final results of the petition, with invited opposition MPs in attendance to speak against the motion. (This can have an even bigger impact than official paper petitions.)

The main reason ARCC is also offering a paper petition is because the anti-choice movement has been submitting paper petitions, and it’s important to show Parliament that we have official support for our side too. Another advantage of submitting a paper petition is that MPs are required to present it to the House and it gets read into the official Hansard record. We will ask a number of MPs to present batches of petition sheets to maximize the impact. Finally, the paper petition allows people who are not online to express their opposition to the motion – so please target them if you can. (People who are online may sign both petitions.) Note: You do not need to obtain 25 signatures on every sheet – ARCC just needs a minimum of 25 signatures total before submitting petition sheets to an MP.

Our thanks go to the Canadian Labour Congress for kindly preparing these paper petitions for us.

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