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Burnaby MP's e-petition plan implemented

Canadians will be able to file online petitions with government after the next federal election

Kennedy Stewart's idea to bring e-petitions to Canada is officially reality, after the House of Commons implemented the plan today.

As soon as the house sits after the next federal election, Canadians will be able to file petitions online, and a minimum of 500 signatures will trigger a response from the relevant minister.

"It's a done deal," said Stewart, MP for Burnaby-Douglas.

Stewart has been pushing for e-petitions since 2012. The House of Commons currently accepts paper petitions but not online versions.

Stewart said there will be a website, governed by the speaker of the House of Commons, where the public can create an online petition. The site will include a drop-down menu so petitioners can ask an MP to sponsor the petition, which is a safeguard to prevent frivolous petitions. Stewart said he thinks the website will create larger-than-expected change.

"For one thing, it will make the media and Canadians know what petitions are out there, because they are all centralized now on a website. If a petition gets 100,000 signatures, or 200,000 signatures, it will go to the media, and it will be very, very hard for a minister not to do something more than just offer a lame response," he said.

Last summer, Stewart managed to convince a handful of backbenchers to support his e-petitions bill, which is why it narrowly passed by two votes, without support from the majority of Conservatives.

"I'm really happy. Remember the prime minister and the whole cabinet voted against it in the House of Commons, and I still ended up getting something," he said.

"It was really hard," he added, laughing.