Convention Comments Number 8

May 11, 2017

The Convention Debate

The convention debate is the discussion which occurs on a proposal (motion) duly moved and seconded.  The debate is presided over by the convention Chairperson, who ensures that it is conducted in a parliamentary fashion and that every delegate who wishes to speak on the motion has an opportunity to do so.

It is customary, either through the Rules of Order or through the instruction of the convention itself, to limit the time delegates have to express their views.

Delegates who wish to speak are recognized in turn by the convention chairperson.

No one may enter the debate unless so recognized and no speaker shall be interrupted by another unless it be on a point of order or privilege.  No delegate may speak more than once to a motion until all who wish to speak have had an opportunity to do so.  Should the mover debate the resolution a second time, a vote is called.

Delegates have the right to discuss any motion (provided it is debatable), however they must neither attack nor be attacked personally.  It is acceptable practice to attack the motion or the intent of the motion, but never the mover or the seconder of the motion.  All delegates are entitled to express their opinions on any debatable motion before the convention without incurring the enmity or noisy objection of other delegates.

In debate, it is common practice for delegates to use the third person and to avoid referring to other delegates by name.  Delegates can be referred to in other ways, such as "the committee chairperson", "the mover of the motion", "the previous speaker", etc.  This custom assists the chair in preserving proper decorum.

Delegates wishing to speak will rise, proceed to a microphone, and address the convention chairperson.  Upon recognition by the Chair, delegates will state their name and their local, followed by the reason for rising to speak.  For example, "Brother/Sister Chairperson, I wish to speak in favour of the motion," "Brother/Sister Chairperson, I seek clarification on the committee's recommendation and, through you, would ask the committee...", "Brother/Sister Chairperson, I rise on a point of order."

One important rule of debate is that no delegate may put forward a motion immediately after speaking to the question.  For example, a delegate may not speak against a committee report and then move to refer the report back to the committee.  Another delegate would have to move the referral.

Generally speaking, any motion placed before the convention is debatable.  The exceptions are motions:  to adjourn; to appeal the ruling of the Chair (except that the Chair may explain the ruling); point of order; question of privilege; to suspend the rules of order; to table; to postpone; to refer; to reconsider (except that the propriety or advisability of the latter three motions may be debated); the previous question; to move into a committee of the whole.