MP Stewart wins e-petitions vote in House

Burnaby-Douglas NDP MP Kennedy Stewart -
Burnaby-Douglas NDP MP Kennedy Stewart
— image credit:

Burnaby-Douglas NDP MP Kennedy Stewart managed a rare accomplishment Wednesday when his electronic-petitions motion was passed in the House of Commons by two votes.

"That was a nail biter for sure!" Stewart tweeted shortly afterwards.

It's rare for private member's motions to pass, particularly for opposition members. But Stewart managed it by securing the votes of several Conservative backbench MPs, whose own private member's motions on democratic reform he agreed to support.

In the end, MPs voted 142 to 140 in favour of Stewart's motion, which calls for Parliament's Procedures and House Affairs Committee to look at his idea for e-petitions and report back within 12 months.

Stewart is proposing a system in which an hour of Parliamentary debate would be triggered if a certain number of signatures, 50,000 for example, are secured on an e-petition, as a way to encourage public involvement in the democratic process.

Currently, Canadian residents can only submit printed petitions with 25 or more signatures to their MP, who then submits it to the House of Commons. If it meets certain criteria the government is required to respond within 45 days with a letter.

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