Rules of Order for Meetings

Rules of Order adopted by Woodsworth Housing Co-Operative Inc, March 27, 1979

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Chair may rule a motion out of order on the grounds that it is absurd, frivolous, obstructive, delaying or otherwise dilatory.


Election Procedures

While our current by-laws don’t give a lot of details about specific procedures, the Ontario Co-operative Corporations Act (principally Sections 90 and 91) covers elections. And we must follow that legislation. (We do have procedures we have used since the very beginning, based on the legislation. See below.)

Article III of Woodsworth’s current Organizational By-Law says:

14. Voting: A member of the Cooperative has only one (1) vote. All questions proposed for the consideration of the members at a meeting shall be determined by a majority of votes cast and the Chairman presiding at the meeting has a second or casting vote in the case of an equality of votes.

And Article IV of our current Organizational By-Law says:

6. Election and Removal:

(a) Directors shall be elected yearly by the members in general meeting by ballot…Every member entitled to vote at an election of directors, if he votes, shall cast thereat a number of votes equal to the number of directors to be elected, and the member shall distribute the votes among the candidates in such a manner as he sees fit, but no candidate shall receive more than one (1) vote from each member.

And Article IV, Section 3 outlines the qualifications for directors. The Co-operative Corporations Act says the same in 89 (1-2).

There is more detail about election processes in the Co-operative Corporations Act (Ontario).

Candidates must be there or must have agreed to run for election:

Section 89, Consent
(3) A person who is elected or appointed a director is not a director unless,

(a) the person was present at the meeting when he or she was elected or appointed and did not refuse at the meeting to act as director;

(b) where the person was not present at the meeting when he or she was elected or appointed, the person consented to act as director in writing before his or her election or appointment or within ten days thereafter. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.35, s. 89 (3).

Who can vote and how:
91 (1) is the same – vote for the same number of members as there are vacant spaces and no more than one vote for each candidate by a member.

You must be there to vote, since we are a non-profit housing co-operative:

Meeting by electronic means
(3) If the by-laws of a co-operative, other than a non-profit housing co-operative, so provide, a meeting of the members of the co-operative may be held by telephonic or electronic means and a member who, through those means, votes at the meeting or establishes a communications link to the meeting is deemed for the purposes of this Act to be present at the meeting. 2009, c. 34, Sched. F, s. 1.

76 (1) A member of a co-operative has only one vote. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.35, s. 76 (1).

Election of directors
90 (1) The directors shall be elected by the members in general meeting, and the election shall be by ballot in the manner prescribed by section 91.

Voting for directors
91 (1) Every member entitled to vote at an election of directors, if the member votes, shall cast at the election a number of votes equal to the number of directors to be elected, and the member shall distribute the votes among the candidates in such manner as the member sees fit, but no candidate shall receive more than one vote from each member. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.35, s. 91.

Proxies prohibited
(2) Subject to subsection (3), no member of a co-operative shall vote by proxy. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.35, s. 76 (2).

Woodsworth has a procedure that the co-op and the Elections Committee has been using for years, based on the Ontario legislation and on our by-laws. This has been working well since our first elections in 1979.

The good news is that the model Organizational By-Law currently being reviewed by the By-Law Committee puts all of this in clearer and friendlier language!

Election Procedures (1998 version)

1.  Returning Officer


2.  ballots:there should be someone at the door to give out ballots to all members.


3.  Give members an overview of election procedure

–  members should have ballots and the candidate profiles of declared candidates

–  ballots were picked up at the door

–  latecomers will be given ballots only for those positions that have not been voted on already

–  some members have already agreed to stand for election

–  meeting  will be accepting nominations from the floor for the Board and for each committee

–  members will be given an opportunity to read  or re-read the candidate profiles from previously declared candidates before  marking ballots

–  members will be given an opportunity to mark ballots for each committee before the next nomination

–  ballots will be deposited in the ballot boxes at the end of the whole election

– in other words, after members have marked ballots, keep it until we are finished electing all the committees and the Board.


– no proxy voting is allowed

– you can put the first name or last name

– names are written for the members, if possible

– MEMBERS MUST CHOOSE AS MANY NAMES AS THERE ARE POSITIONS OPEN.  For example, you must choose five names for the membership committee this year.

– each name must appear on your ballot only once.

– if you do not choose the full number of names to fill the positions on the committee, your ballot will be spoiled and not counted.

– ask “Are there any questions?”


– do 1 committee at a time – use the order below, not the order on the agenda

– read out the names of those already running for that committee – tell how many are needed

– tell them which slip is to be used

– emphasize the colour and repeat everything slowly

– call for nominations from the floor

– call slowly three (3) times

– if anyone is nominated, ask if the person agrees to stand

– if the person nominated is not there and there is no written agreement to stand, the name cannot be accepted.

– if the person agrees to stand, the name will be added to the chalkboard list

– after 3 calls, declare nominations for the ————————— (committee) closed.


Acclamation –

If the number of candidates matches the number needed, no election is held – the candidates are acclaimed.  NOTE: if one position is for 1 year, the elected candidates themselves will decide who will be the 1 year person.

If an election is necessary –

– ask the candidates to come to the front

– introduce them slowly so that members can put familiar faces together with names

– give the members time to read any blurbs.

– ask the candidates if they wish to speak for up to 1 minute.

Board members will speak or read their blurb for up to 2 minutes.

– there should be a time keeper for speakers.

– remind them about spoiled ballots and the correct colour

– remind them which committee they are voting for now

– give them enough time to read and write the names – make sure they know the names of the candidates

– get a sense if they are finished, then go on to the next committee

– ballots are collected at the end of the elections

6. Finishing up

– ASK FOR A MOTION TO DESTROY THE BALLOTS IN 24 hours.  (after the meeting, someone responsible (not a candidate) should take charge of the ballot boxes.  SECONDED AND VOTE.

– AT THE END OF THE ELECTION, give them a few minutes to put the ballots in the boxes.

– Ask for volunteers to count (not candidates) and go to another room with the ballot boxes.


– successful candidates will be listed alphabetically without any indication of the number of votes for each candidate

– ballots will be kept for 24 hours before they are destroyed


– normally results are announced at the get-together after the meeting.