Plenary and Voting
What is plenary?
Plenary is the part of the convention that is attended by all participants (as opposed to the other breakout sessions throughout the weekend). In the GPO, we use the term plenary to refer to the parts of our convention where we consider and vote on constitutional, policy and directive resolutions.
What are resolutions?
During the conference, we will consider 3 types of resolutions that set a particular direction for the GPO:
- Policy resolutions that set a position for the GPO on a specific issue,
- Constitutional resolutions that modify our constitution, and
- Directive resolutions that request a particular course of action for operations of the party.
What order will we review resolutions?
We’ll look at constitutional, policy and directive resolutions, in that order.
The resolutions will be ranked by convention delegates prior to the Policy Workshops that we are holding on Saturday.
When do we vote?
We will vote on resolutions during Plenary.
How do we vote?
We use a voting method called the Bonser Method to consider resolutions. For our general convention process, or where the Bonser Method is silent, we use Robert’s Rules of Order.
Here is a brief introduction to the Bonser Method of voting. More information is available in the Bylaw F of the GPO constitution. If there is a discrepancy between these instructions and the bylaw, the bylaw is the authority.
The sponsor of the resolutions or a designate presents the resolution and explains its merits for a maximum of 2 minutes.
2. Questions of clarification
Delegates (that’s you!) can ask up to a total of 3 short questions of clarification of 30 seconds maximum (3 total per resolution, not per delegate). This is not a presentation of arguments for or against the resolution, rather an explanation of a point that may not be clear.
At this point, only minor wording changes (‘friendly amendments’) that clarify the resolution in response to the questions asked shall be allowed – no opinions, amendments, or speaking to the content of the resolution.
Delegates can next speak in favour or in opposition to a resolution: up to 2 people with supporting arguments, and 2 people with opposing arguments. Maximum 30 seconds per person.
Two microphones will be set up on the plenary floor for this purpose (a “pro” mic and a “con” mic). If there are more than 2 people at a mic, it’s good to consult with each other to ensure the best arguments are put forward. The plenary chairs may extend the debate for up to 5 minutes.
Once debate has been closed, the chairs will then move to a vote. To vote for the motion, show your voting card:
- Green to support the resolution.
- Red to oppose the resolution.
- Yellow to send the resolution to workshop. This means that you could support the motion, given changes that would be suggested during a break out workshop.
Note: some delegates may carry proxy votes on behalf of members who aren’t able to be present at the meeting.
The motion passes if more than 60% of the votes cast are green, and is defeated if more than 60% of the votes cast are red. Any other outcome means the resolution will be sent to a workshop session for possible amendment.
You do not have to vote on every resolution.
At an appropriate time in the agenda, generally after 3 resolutions are voted to go to workshop, the chair calls a breakout workshop session. In each workshop, a resolution is discussed and amended, and recommendations to the assembly may also be prepared.
You can choose whichever workshop is of most interest to you.
At the workshop, the resolution is debated in more detail, and amendments are proposed to address any concerns raised. Final wording of the resolution is brought back to the plenary for a final vote.
6. Final Vote
At the close of the workshops, plenary resumes and the updated resolution is provided for consideration. The workshop leader is given time to explain the reasons behind the changes (if any). 3 questions of clarification are permitted. Friendly amendments (wording changes that don’t affect the meaning of the resolution) are allowed, but there is no further debate on the resolution.
A second vote on the resolution is held. In this final vote, only votes in favour (green) or opposed (red) are permitted. If 60% of the cards displayed are green, the resolution passes. The resolution is defeated with any other outcome.
Guidelines for Plenary
It is extremely important to attend plenary sessions on time: each year, several resolutions are not considered because time runs out. You can help ensure that we get through all resolutions submitted this year by arriving to plenary on time.
We use rules of order to make sure our convention runs smoothly, fairly, and on time. With cooperation and agreement from delegates in plenary, we may from time to time turn from formal process to achieve these objectives. We look forward to your active participation. We also ask that you remember to be respectful of others at all times. Participatory democracy always demands polite discourse.
Terms you may hear (or use!) during Plenary
Please remember to direct your questions or points to the plenary chair(s).
- Point of Privilege: Used if a delegate has an issue relating to noise, personal comfort (ie it’s too hot!) etc. Please interrupt proceedings only if necessary!
- Point of Information: Generally, applies to information desired from the speaker: “I should like to ask the (speaker) a question.”
- Point of Order: Raises an issue relating to an infraction of the rules, or improper decorum in speaking. Must be raised immediately after the error is made.
- Main Motion: Brings new business (the next item on the agenda) before the assembly.
- Divide the Question: Divides a motion into two or more separate motions (must be able to stand on their own).
- Amend: Inserting or striking out words or paragraphs, or substituting whole paragraphs or resolutions.
- Withdraw/Modify Motion: Applies only after question is stated; mover can accept an amendment without obtaining the floor.
- Extend Debate: Applies only to the immediately pending question; extends until a certain time or for a certain period of time.
Limit Debate: Closing debate at a certain time, or limiting to a certain period of time. A member may do this by ‘calling the question’.