Rules of Order
Rule of order make the difference between mob-rule and democracy. Our rules of order help us run good meetings and get business done efficiently.
Each rule has a purpose. This guide will tell you why it is used and explain how and when to use it in a meeting.
To get the meeting to take some kind of action. The motion and its meaning should be clear. It should include what, when, where, who, how and timeline, as needed.
Seconder required. Debate allowed. All other motions apply to it.
In most cases, unless your co-op’s Rules provide otherwise, a simple majority is required to pass a motion.
The Co-op Act requires the co-op to pass a “special resolution” in order to take certain actions (like changing the co-op’s Rules, or removing a director from office).
To pass a special resolution
- members must be given at least 14 days’ notice of the meeting
- the notice of meeting must indicate that the special resolution is to be considered, and
- the majority in favour of the motion must be at least two-thirds (or more, depending on your Rules).
Check the Co-op Act and your Rules for details about when a special resolution is required and the majority it needs to pass.
To make some change to the main motion without changing its intent. Amendments may not be directly against or unrelated to main motion.
Seconder required. Debate allowed on the proposed amendment. Simple majority required to incorporate the amendment into the main motion.
Once an amendment is passed, the meeting continues to discuss and eventually vote on the main motion as amended.
Friendly amendment: A member may ask the mover and seconder of the main motion to accept an amendment as “friendly”. If they all agree, the main motion is debated as amended. A friendly amendment should only be used to make minor changes or correct obvious errors.
To send the main motion to another body for consideration (e.g. the board, committee).
Seconder required. May debate whether to refer or not. Provides direction about who to refer to and timeline for reporting back to the meeting, if necessary. Simple majority required.
TO CLOSE DEBATE
To close debate on the motion under discussion without hearing any more speakers, and proceed directly to the vote.
Seconder required. No debate. Two-thirds majority required.
This is sometimes called “calling the question”. Someone who has already spoken on the motion cannot move to close debate.
At any time, if no member of the assembly wants to speak on the motion, the chair may call for a vote and there is no need for a motion to close debate.
To postpone consideration of a motion, usually to a stated time.
Seconder required. No debate. Simple majority required.
To withdraw any motion under consideration.
May be moved only by mover of the motion and requires permission of seconder. No debate. No vote required unless there is an objection to the withdrawal, in which case a simple majority would be required.
To appeal a decision of the chair.
Seconder required. No debate. Mover states reason for appeal, then chair states reason for decision. Simple majority required to uphold the chair or not.
POINT OF ORDER
To correct an error in the conduct of the meeting.
No debate. The member calls out “point of order”. The chair interrupts the current speaker (if there is one) and asks the member to state the point of order. Point is decided by the chair. The chair’s decision may be appealed. After the point of order has been dealt with, the meeting continues where it was interrupted.
May also be used as point of information where a mover asks for clarification about the business at hand.
POINT OF PRIVILEGE
To make a request to the chair or to propose a motion on a matter that may affect the integrity, comfort, rights or privileges of the meeting or of individuals.
No debate. The member calls out “point of privilege”. The chair interrupts the current speaker (if there is one) and asks the member to state the point of privilege. Point is decided by the chair. The chair’s decision may be appealed.
Any resulting motion (if permitted by chair) is debated. All other motions apply to it. Simple majority required.
After the point of privilege has been dealt with, the meeting continues where it was interrupted.
To end the meeting.
Seconder required. May be debated. Majority vote required. Not normally made until all business has been completed, except in cases of urgency.
The chair may close the meeting without a motion when all the business is done, there is no quorum, or it has become impossible to conduct business.
To adjourn the meeting to a future time, date and place. No business shall be conducted at an adjourned meeting other than the business left unfinished at the meeting from which the adjournment took place. (Refer to Rule 14.15)
The chair of a meeting may, and if directed by members must, adjourn a meeting at which quorum is present. Seconder required. May be debated. Simple majority required.
There are two motions that have less priority than the main motion, because they cannot be made until the vote has been taken on the main motion. They are:
Purpose: To reconsider the vote on the main motion.
Debatable if original motion was debatable. Can be moved at any time, by any person who voted in favour of the original motion, providing that no one has acted on the original motion and it can be reversed. Requires same notice and same majority as the original motion.
Cancels the outcome of a previous vote on the main motion and allows the meeting to debate and vote again on the motion.
To cancel a main motion.
Debatable. Two-thirds majority required. Has the effect of cancelling an earlier decision (if the decision has not yet been acted upon). If passed, a new motion may be placed before the meeting. Rarely used and not in order if a motion to reconsider would have the same effect.