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Deputies' Corner
News from the Deputy Team - Managing Orderly Debate

By Todd Gelineau, General Deputy

  OCTOBER 2, 2011 --

We continue our focus on the "basics" this month with a discussion on ... well, discussion!  We have all been at Grange meetings where an issue is the subject of excited, if not heated, debate.  Many members want to speak on the issue and the Master has a difficult task of moderating the discussion so all have their fair turn to speak.

Unfortunately, I have seen too many meetings where members speak over one another and/or address other members/officers without the permission of the chair (the Master).  All discussion in a Grange meeting must go through the Master.  It is the Master’s responsibility to moderate the discussion and recognize members who want to speak, BEFORE they begin speaking.

Beyond the disrespect to the Master and other members, speaking out of turn and speaking over other members or having side discussions while others are speaking makes it very difficult, especially for the hearing impaired, to follow the discussion.

Let’s say a member wants the floor to ask a question of the Secretary.  A way to do this is to say, “Worthy Master, through you to the Worthy Secretary (or to the person or officer you wish to speak to).”  Or you can say, “Worthy Master, may I speak to the Worthy Secretary?”  The Master would then grant permission to speak directly to the Secretary (in this example).  By doing this, the Master retains complete control over the discussion and the discussion is orderly and hopefully shorter because members are not competing for the attention of the Grange.

Members should also rise when speaking (unless a disability prevents it).  When two or more members rise at the same time, the member farthest from the Chair should be recognized unless the privilege is abused.

Following these rules should decrease heated debates as members will be taking the time to think before speaking and the more orderly debate should help all members to better understand what is being discussed.

For more detailed information on orderly debate, please see the National Digest Code of Parliamentary Law (Chapter 13).


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