You’re on Facebook. You see news about proposed breed specific legislation. A few minutes later, three different online petitions pop up pleading for your support. Do you sign? Have you ever wondered if these are just a form of “slacktivism” or whether you are making a difference by lending your support?
These online petitions are done with the best intentions, and have the capability of reaching hundreds of thousands of people in a matter of hours. They are an amazing tool for bringing awareness to a situation, and for spreading the word at a pace in which live signature collection could never hope to do.
They give people instant gratification; a sense of instant results at the click of our mouse, at a time when we feel outraged and powerless. The moment we “sign” our name to an online petition we feel as though we have contributed to the fight, that we have voiced our concerns, that we are making a difference, and that our “signatures” matter.
Unfortunately, from a legal standpoint, and in terms of meaningfully addressing BSL, these electronic petitions do not matter, nor does the time we spend filling them out.
In Canada, breed specific legislation is not a federal matter. For an online petition to be accepted the petition must present a concern that is at a Federal level and that is within the authority of the Parliament of Canada, the House of Commons, or the Government of Canada. It must collect specific about signatories in a special manner (ie, not a change.org printout).
Unfortunately breed specific legislation and animal control measures only fall under municipal or provincial legislation. Each municipality and province has their own clear guidelines on what is required to create a properly formatted and acceptable petition.
So next time you see a petition across your newsfeed, think about what you are signing. Is it going to realistically change or stop the legislation? If not, is it part of a sensible and reputable public awareness campaign? Many of us signed the Montreal SPCA’s “Safer, Kinder Communities” online petition, for example, because it was part of a massive, well-organized advocacy effort by an established organization. But anyone can launch a change.org petition (or a Go Fund Me page, but perhaps that’s a topic for another day!), and random petitions proliferate whenever there is a hot topic in the news. As always, it comes down to thinking critically about what you lend your name to and where you spend your time!
#endBSL #notoBill128 #Canada150 #BSLbytes
Electronic petitions in Canada:
Provincial petition requirements:
Newfoundland and Labrador
Prince Edward Island
For background on the #BSLbytes campaign visit the HugABull blog: http://blog.hugabull.com/take-a-byte-out-of-bsl