New Brunswick

Speaker rejects online petition

The Alward government plans to change the way petitions to the legislature are accepted after a petition with 3,000 names was rejected Tuesday because some signatures were missing.
Government House Leader Paul Robichaud is promising rules will be changed soon to allow the Legislature to accept online petitions.

The Alward government says it plans to change the way petitions to the legislature are accepted after a petition with 3,000 names was rejected Tuesday because some signatures were missing.

Speaker Dale Graham said petitions must be accompanied by handwritten signatures and therefore the online petition to save the tax credit for New Brunswick's film industry did not comply with provincial rules.

"So I will not accept this petition as written," explained Graham.

In March of 2010, when the Tories were in opposition, they complained about antiquated, low-tech rules on petitions.

At that time the Speaker of the House, Liberal MLA Roy Boudreau, refused to accept many names on an online petition that called for a referendum on the sale of parts of NB Power to Hydro Québec.

Liberal MLA Donald Arseneault was critical of the Tories, saying now that they are in government, they still haven't made the necessary changes which would require that the Legislature's procedures committee convene.

"Clearly they seemed to be in favour of these online petitions at that time, so let the procedures committee meet, as the Speaker said today, so they can make the proper changes," said Arseneault.

Government House leader Paul Robichaud promised the committee would meet soon, and online petitions would be accepted later this year.

"After a couple of hundred years, it's about time we look at other ways that New Brunswickers will have their voice heard here in the Legislature with the new technology that is in place."

One possible model is Quebec's National Assembly website, where people can sign electronic petitions as long as they register and provide their full names.

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