Frequently Asked Questions


What can petitions do?

 Petitions presented in the Assembly can often lead to change or better inform debate.

For example, petitions can:

• bring an issue to the attention of the Assembly; or

• show strong public approval or disapproval of something that the government is doing or proposing to do. 

What issues can a petition relate to?


Petitions should be relevant to matters which the Legislative Assembly or the Government of the Northwest Territories has power and control over.

Can I start a petition?


To start a petition you must be a resident of the NWT.  The person who starts a petition is called the principal petitioner.

Can I sign a petition?


To sign a traditional paper petition or an electronic petition, you must be a resident of the NWT.  In addition, to sign an electronic petition you must have a valid email address.

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How do I start a petition?


To start a paper petition you must provide a short and clear statement about the subject of the petition and allow space for signatures on the same page.  The petitions are usually left in a public place for interested residents to sign.  You may gather signatures until a date you have decided on in advance. 

To start an electronic petition, you must complete an online form, also providing a short and clear statement about the subject of the petition.  Your email address will be verified.  You may also be asked to explain some of the petition’s information. The Office of the Clerk will then make arrangements for the petition to be posted online.

You can run an online petition at the same time as a paper petition, combining the two before submitting them to an MLA for presentation in the Assembly. The electronic petition you set up online can be printed from the site and used as a traditional paper petition.  Some people prefer this option as they find it easier to have a paper copy they can distribute to like-minded supporters.

You may wish to contact an MLA at an early stage to ensure that the MLA agrees to present your petition in the Assembly.

What should my petition contain?


A petition should include a brief title and a short, clear and concise statement covering the subject of the petition. It should clearly state what action the petitioner wishes the Assembly to take. If your electronic petition is unclear, the Office of the Clerk may need to contact you via email.

In order for a petition to be considered,  an electronic petition must follow the online petition format and must clearly display;

• the title/subject of the petition; 

• the principal petitioner's contact email address (which will be verified and used if further contact is needed);

• the name and community of residence of any person supporting the petition; and

• the starting and closing date of the petition. 

Paper petitions must clearly display:

• the title/subject of the petition; 

• the principal petitioner's contact address; and

• the name, community and signature of anyone supporting the petition. 

The contact details of the principal petitioner are essential.  In the case of electronic petitions, although the name and address of any person supporting the petition is required, only the name and community of residence will be displayed.

Please note that once submitted, we will try to approve electronic petitions within 3-5 working days. Once the petition has been accepted it will become a public document accessible through the electronic petitions website.   Petitioners are advised to take this timeframe into account before proceeding.

You should take care not to include any information or signatures that should not be made public.

Petitions that do not follow these guidelines will not be accepted. In the case of an electronic petition, we will contact you via email to explain the reasons why your petition cannot be accepted.

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How do I promote an electronic petition?


As with paper petitions, the responsibility for publicizing an electronic petition lies with the principal petitioner.

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What happens once the signatures have been collected?


For traditional, paper petitions, the principal petitioner should decide when he or she has collected sufficient names, and should submit the petition to an MLA for consideration. The Assembly requires a minimum of three signatures for the petition to be valid.

For electronic petitions, the principal petitioner must set a closing date. Once that closing date has been reached, the principal petitioner should submit the petition to an MLA for presentation in the Assembly.

What is the process for submitting the petition?


As soon as the closing date is reached, the principal petitioner must ensure the final submission of the petition to an MLA for presentation in the House. If a petition is not submitted within six months of its closing date an email alert will be sent to the principal petitioner prior to the petition being archived.

If you are circulating a traditional, paper petition in conjunction with an electronic petition, both parts of the petition should be received by the MLA before they are submitted to the Assembly. 

The final stage requires the MLA to present the petition in the House.

What happens after the petition is submitted?


A Member presenting a petition shall be answerable for any impertinent or improper matter that it contains.  A petition that complains of some present personal grievance requiring an immediate remedy may be debated immediately.  A Member may, after notice, move that a petition be referred to a Standing or Special Committee which shall report its recommendations to the Assembly.  The Clerk shall deliver copies of all petitions presented to either the Speaker or the Minister responsible.  The Speaker or the Minister responsible shall provide a response to a petition within 60 calendar days of its presentation.  The response shall be tabled at the earliest opportunity.

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Privacy Statement


Once you sign a petition, your name and community will appear on the electronic petition site.  Your details will be held in computer readable form to allow the principal petitioner to administer and submit the petition you have signed. The other details you give are needed by the Office of the Clerk to validate your support. This is the same information required for a paper petition.

Your details will only be used by the Office of the Clerk and the principal petitioner to verify your support for any petition that you sign. Your details will not be used for any purposes other than the electronic petition.  

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 • Electronic petition - a petition which collects names and addresses online, accessing a website. 

Principal petitioner - the person who initiates the petition and decides when it is to be submitted.

‘Collecting signatures’ petitions - an electronic petition that is collecting names and addresses online.

‘To be submitted’ petitions - a petition which is no longer collecting support online, but has not yet been submitted to an MLA.

‘Submitted’ petitions - a petition that has been submitted to a MLA. 

‘Closed’ petitions - a petition that has been submitted to an MLA and presented to the Legislative Assembly.