Adopted by Woodsworth Housing Co-operative membership, March 27, 1979
CONDUCT OF BUSINESS
For most items of business, a decision by the General Meeting is required. Decisions come about as follows: the item is presented and a motion is made and seconded; the motion is debated, and possibly amended; and the meeting votes on the motion.
As each item on the agenda comes up for discussion, it is introduced by the Chair and/or a presentation is made by the sponsor. The sponsor may have a specific proposal for the meeting or, after some discussion, it may become apparent that the Co-op should make a decision about the item, in which case a motion should be proposed and seconded. Every main motion should be submitted to the Chair in written form. (This does not include Procedural motions.)
Once a motion has been made and seconded, it is debated by the meeting, with debate regulated by the Chair. Speakers must speak for or against the proposal and the chair may rule a speaker out of order if his or her comments are not relevant to the motion. All remarks should be addressed to the Chair, rather than any particular member at the meeting. Each speaker may only speak for five minutes or less at a time. At the discretion of the Chair, no person may speak more than once on the same item until all members present who wish to speak on the item have done so.
All persons desiring to speak must raise their hand until acknowledged by the Chair. The Chair will maintain a “speakers’ list” of all persons requesting to speak and will allow them to speak in order.
During debate on a main motion, amendments to the motion may be introduced. An amendment may delete part of the main motion, add to it, or change parts of it, but can not be contrary to the intent of the motion.
An amendment must be moved and seconded. If the mover and seconder of the main motion agree to the amendment, it immediately becomes part of the main motion. If they do not agree, a vote must be taken on the amendment.
Once the amendment has been moved and seconded, all speakers must address the amendment rather than the main motion. The Chair will keep a separate speakers’ list for the debate of the amendment. When the meeting is ready to vote on the amendment(s), the Chair will review all the amendments and then take a separate vote on each. Those that pass are incorporated into the main motion and debate continues on the main motion as amended using the main speakers’ list, until the meeting is ready for the vote on the main motion or another amendment is proposed.
Occasionally, a member wishes to amend a motion by replacing it with a whole new motion. This is not allowed as a valid amendment. However, the member may briefly outline the substitute motion and either ask the mover to withdraw the motion on the floor or urge the meeting to defeat it so that the substitute motion can be proposed.
4. WITHDRAWING MOTION
The mover of a motion may withdraw the motion from the floor. This would be done if the mover has decided no decision should be made at this time, or to allow a substitute motion to be made.
5. CALLING THE QUESTION
During the debate of a main motion or an amendment, any speaker, in their turn, and other than the mover or seconder, may call for a vote on the question or “call the question”. This is an attempt to end debate on a motion and vote without allowing any more discussion. Because a motion to “call the question” may take away some members’ right to speak, it should be used carefully. Before proposing to “call the question”, there should be some indication that most members have made up their minds, and that speakers are not contributing any new arguments.
A motion to “call the question” requires a seconder and may not be debated. In order to be carried, the motion to “call the question” requires a 2/3 majority. If the motion is defeated, debate on the main motion or amendment continues. If the motion to “call the question” is carried, then the meeting is ready to vote on the main motion or amendment on the floor. The Chair should take the vote with no further debate.
6. DEFERRING THE QUESTION
During the debate on a main motion or an amendment, any speaker, in his or her turn, can move to “defer the question” to a subsequent meeting. This is an attempt to postpone a decision on the proposal on the floor until a future date or until after a specific action or decision has happened. A motion to “defer the question” does not need to be seconded. The mover, or if the mover declines, one other person may speak in favour of deferring the proposal, and one person may speak against deferring. A vote on the motion to “defer the question” is then taken. If carried, the proposal is deferred as per the motion. If it is defeated, debate continues on the main motion or amendment.
Members may only speak out of turn if they wish to raise a point of order or a point of information. To raise such a point, a member stands and with as much courtesy as possible, interrupts the current speaker or the Chair and announces that they wish to raise a point of order or information. The Chair may accept or reject such an interruption at its discretion.
If the Chair acknowledges the member, the point should be stated simply and briefly, and the member should sit down. A point of order should be raised when a member feels that an incorrect procedure is being followed, there is a better procedure, the Chair has made an incorrect ruling, or there is a lack of quorum. Once a point of order has been stated, the Chair will rule on its validity and, if appropriate, act on it. A point of information should be raised when a member feels that he or she has an important piece of information relating to the item under consideration that may save needless debate if it is raised immediately instead of at the member’s turn to speak.
8. DILATORY MOTIONS
The Chair may rule a motion out of order on the grounds that it is absurd, frivolous, obstructive, delaying or otherwise dilatory.