Are online petitions worthless because legislatures won’t accept them?

Author: Troy Lanigan 2012/07/17

Are online petitions worthless because legislatures won’t accept them?


by CTF President Troy Lanigan

It is true that online petitions are not accepted on the floor of legislatures and the House of Commons.  However -- whatever the outdated and arcane legislative rules – this concern is irrelevant because the CTF would never waste time delivering a petition to the floor of any legislature.

The CTF believes petitions should be marched directly to relevant lawmakers outside of the legislative body.  This way we can bring media in tow and often force a response directly from the public official who is responsible.

The largest and most successful petition of our 20 year history came when we directly delivered 233,000 signatures opposing proposed tax increases to then-Finance Minister Paul Martin prior to his delivering the 1995 federal budget.  Our practice of direct delivery of petitions has not changed over the years, even if the mode of how petitions are gathered has.

In April 2010, a CTF online petition aimed at ending OAS/GIS benefits for convicted prisoners, was printed and delivered (along with a disk of the signators) directly to the federal minister responsible Diane Finlay. A story that evening on Global National (play the YouTube video) demonstrates the effectiveness of direct delivery in garnering wider publicity and a public commitment from the minister responsible.  Compare this to a petition presented in parliament between daily prayers and introductions of school classes in the public gallery.

In fact, online petitions are more effective because of their ability to garner large numbers of signatures quickly and efficiently.  Size does matter when it comes to petitions!

Remember, politicians are followers, not leaders.  Demonstrations of large numbers of voters who support a policy does have sway. And while it’s true that many petitions fail, it’s also true that all petitions fail that are never attempted.