Notice how I put "Sometimes..." in the title? That's because I have no problem with those who take the time and effort to draw up online petitions and share them, as the majority do so with the most noble intentions, and should be commended. When it comes to animal welfare, there is no such thing as too much publicity! I've signed hundreds of such petitions online to voice my support for causes. When we all do so, we are collectively putting pressure on those (media, politicians, activists) who might be in a position to further change. There is however, one key aspect that many people don't realize, and it's a biggie :
Legally IN ONTARIO, ONLINE PETITIONS ACCOUNT FOR NOTHING!
This evening I was directed to MPP Randy Hillier's "Bring Back The Bulls" website, which calls for a repeal of Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). On the website, there is the ability to "sign" a petition based on a bill that Mr. Hillier tabled in the Ontario legislature last week. I won't bore you with an in depth lesson on parliamentary procedure, but I'll share what I wrote on his website. Note : If you have any questions with regard to the BSL petition, make sure to contact MPP Hillier. What I have written below is what I learned, through experience, to be the most effective way to get your petition read multiple times. :
"IT IS VERY IMPORTANT for people to know that online signatures mean NOTHING in the legislature (unfortunate isn't it?). For signed petitions to hold any weight, each signature on a petition SHOULD be from the same riding (to ensure its effectiveness).....and MUST be written, not typed! Last year, we learned this with regard to Provincial oversight of the OSPCA. Of course, sign online & show support if you wish, but make sure to submit the downloaded signed petition to the MPP who represents those signatures. You could have one petition with 10 signatures on it, but if those 10 signatures are from different ridings, they only "count" as one signature (in that only one of the respective MPPs can introduce the petition). My suggestion? Go to a local dog park & get signatures from the same (your) riding, & submit them to your MPP. Silly I know, but that's how the Ontario legislature works!"
I have nothing but praise for Mr. Hillier and his intentions, nor can I say enough good things about the wonderful people I have gotten to know as a result of their unending, tireless work toward ending BSL. My fear is that those individuals devoting themselves to this very important cause could see all of their hard work go down the drain, as a result of their lack of knowledge. I can only assume Mr. Hillier has a reason for not emphasizing the importance of paper petitions, rather than promoting online signatures that won't help him one bit in the Ontario legislature. At least, I certainly hope he does.
By all means, keep signing those online petitions. They raise a tremendous amount of awareness. But do your homework where you live, and see if there's something more for you to do than simply keying in your name. It might take more time and effort, but changing the system usually does.
**If you have any questions, they may already be addressed in the comments of this post.
Correction : As Rationalla pointed out in the comments below, an MPP can read a petition on behalf of a colleague...you can see my response below. While they "can", I don't think it carries as much weight as having multiple MPPs reading the petition.