The e-petition to Canada’s Parliament looking to establish an independent Canadian Consumer Advocate has gained more than half of the 500 signatures needed to require an official response from the government.
Endorsed by the Consumers Council of Canada at the outset, the petition has subsequently gained public endorsements, social media “likes” and re-tweets from organizations as diverse as Interac, Air Passenger Rights, ACORN and the Ontario Home Economics Association.
The e-petition was opened in February and will remain open for e-signatures on the House of Commons e-petition web site until June 9.
The petition urges the government to establish a Canadian Consumer Advocate answerable to Parliament to advance consumer interests and represent the consumer voice. The advocate position was first proposed by the Prime Minister in his mandate letters to Canada’s Ministers of Industry, Seniors and Middle-Class Prosperity in 2019, but has made no visible progress since its introduction in those letters.
If the e-petition receives 500 or more e-signatures, the Clerk of Petitions will provide a final certification and present it to the House of Commons. At that time, the Government of Canada will have 45 days to respond. A successful petition would provide a rare opportunity for consumers to get an answer about consumer protection and representation concerns in Canada and a proposed step towards better achieving them.
Consumers Council of Canada’s 2020 position paper Time for a Real Federal Consumer Advocate strongly endorsed the idea of a national advocate and encouraged the government to consider an expanded role for the office. The Council endorsed the e-petition, noting the current patchwork approach to consumer protection is failing consumers. “It’s tattered by complex markets, powerful special interests, and new challenges and economic difficulty brought on by COVID-19. A Consumer Advocate can speak for consumers, support their voice through civil society, and ensure their needs are respected in government decision-making.”
Canadians can show their support by signing the e-petition. Signatories must be citizens or residents of Canada and will be required to add their name, email address, province, postal code and telephone number. Individuals may only sign once, and will receive an automated email prompt to confirm their e-signature.