The petitions process was established by Parliament to make sure Canadians can get answers from federal ministers on specific environmental and sustainable development issues that involve federal jurisdiction. In addition to providing information to petitioners, petitions have prompted such action by federal departments as new environmental projects, follow-up on alleged violations, and changes or clarifications in policies and practices. The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development reports annually to Parliament on the petitions process.
The Office of the Auditor General of Canada has prepared a guide to the environmental petitions process. The guide, called Getting Answers (PDF), explains the purpose and mechanics of the petitions process, describes the kinds of requests that can be made, and provides advice on how to prepare a petition.
The full text of most petitions and responses can be found in the petitions catalogue, which currently contains petitions received before 30 June 2012. The catalogue is a useful resource for preparing a petition. Other Canadians may have already raised similar issues. The responses to those petitions may have addressed the concern or they could form a useful basis for a more focused petition.