Convention Comments Number 7

May 10, 2017

The Convention Chairperson

The person who oversees or presides when people are gathered together for the purpose of orderly debate of certain matters is called a Chairperson.  By-Law 8, Section 1 (2) (b) stipulates that the President shall preside at all meetings and Conventions.

It is the duty of the Convention Chairperson to maintain order and decorum, to ensure that committee recommendations are duly moved and seconded, to decide questions of order and procedure using as authority the Rules of Order adopted by the convention assembly, and to call for votes and announce the results.

The Chairperson normally does not take part in debate and does not vote on motions unless the voting has resulted in a tie.

The "no debate" restriction on a convention chairperson is necessary in order to preserve impartiality.  This is sometimes modified, however, by the Rules of Order which may permit the Chairperson to temporarily vacate the chair in order to debate a motion before the convention.  The Chairperson cannot resume the Chair until the motion being debated has been voted on by the assembly.

The Convention Chairperson, of course, is permitted to temporarily vacate the Chair for other reasons, not the least of which may be pressing matters related to the convention and which require immediate attention.  During any absence another person must be designated to assume the responsibilities of the Chair.  This delegation is made pursuant to By-Law 8, Section 2 (3) and (4).

The Convention Chairperson must follow the agenda as adopted and call all business in the order listed.  The Chairperson must ensure that the business of the convention is accomplished by insisting that debate be directed to the matter under consideration.  The Chair must be impartial in all rulings and must not express in any way whatsoever personal opinions or feelings on any matter before the convention. A Chairperson who fails to maintain impartiality may be called to order by the assembly.

As the presiding officer of the convention, the Chairperson must be accorded the respect and honour due to the position.  The Chairperson is usually addressed as Sister/Brother Chairperson.

In deciding a Point of Order, the Chairperson states the authority or practice on which the ruling is based.  No business shall be conducted until the Chairperson makes a ruling. Any delegate in opposition to a ruling of the Chairperson may challenge the Chair.  When the challenge to the Chair is an acceptable one both the delegate and the chairperson explain their rationale and the convention delegates are asked to vote on the question: "Shall the Chair be sustained?"

Finally, except as noted above, the only time the convention Chairperson vacates the Chair to participate in the proceedings of the convention is during the Election of Officers.