Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the House's attention to something that concerns the tabling of petitions.
Very often individuals or lobby groups signing petitions forward them to us for tabling here in this House.
However, in today's context, with the development of new means of communication, petitions may come in different forms. This has happened with me.
One individual has presented an electronic petition, on CD-ROM, with over 17,000 names. Mr. Goyette, a resident of Montreal, in Quebec, collected, through electronic means, 17,000 signatures. That petition, like the one I tabled earlier, asks the government to take action regarding the gasoline pricing issue. This type of petition does not quite comply with the current rules of the House, more specifically with Standing Order 36.
I am asking the Chair whether it would be possible to get a very broad interpretation of this provision of the standing orders or, if it is deemed more appropriate, to have the standing orders amended or updated so that in the future Canadians can use such means.
In some ways an electronic petition is better than a traditional one. It is much easier for the person who is collecting signatures to make sure that someone did not sign the petition more than once. By using an electronic address, it is possible to limit the number of signatures. In any case, an increasing number of people have an electronic address. We are likely to see others follow the example of Mr. Goyette who, to my knowledge in the first one to submit a petition in this format.
There are also advantages in terms of the storing of archival information. This simple CD-ROM has 17,000 signatures but it could have 50 times more. Storage capability for petitions would be greatly enhanced.
Considering that people can now file their personal income tax return by using the Internet, it seems to me that the House of Commons should review its standing orders to make it possible to table petitions in that format.
I respectfully submit this issue to your attention and I am anxiously awaiting your ruling.