Guide to Parliamentary Procedure

What is Parliamentary Procedure?

Parliamentary procedure is a set of rules which, if used correctly, ensures a democratic process in conducting meetings. It will assist a group to run meetings without confusion and without waste of time or effort.

There are three basic ideas behind the rules:

  1. All persons in the group are equal; the rights of one are the rights of all.
  2. The will of the majority will be carried out, but only after the minority has had a fair chance to have its say.
  3. Plain old fashioned common sense.

It cannot be over emphasized, however, that what you want at your meetings, large or small, is the participation and involvement of all your members in discussing the concerns and issues raised in the meeting.

Parliamentary Procedure

  1. A Quorum must be present. "Executive Meeting" [3 of the 5 executive] "General Meeting" [Majority of the membership]
  2. Meeting is called to order by the President.
  3. Welcome by the President.
  4. Secretary reads "The Minutes". President asks for errors and omissions. Corrections are made. Secretary moves adoption of his/her report **. Discussion. Vote: All in favour? Opposed? Carried or defeated.
  5. Treasurer reads "Treasurer's Report". President asks for errors or omissions. Corrections are made. Treasurer moves adoption of his/her report **. Discussion. Vote: All in favour? Opposed? Carried or defeated.
  6. Old Business:
  7. New Business:
  8. Motion to Adjourn.
  9. ** NOTE - If a motion is presented by a committee, no seconder is required.

Rules Governing the First Motion

  • Requires recognition by the Chair: "I move that ... (The Motion)"
  • Requires a Seconder
  • Debated / Amended / or Tabled
  • Voted on

There are three common motions that are not debatable:

(The Chair does not ask for discussion, but simply calls for a vote)
    1. A motion that the meeting be adjourned
    2. A motion that a vote be taken by ballot
    3. A motion that the original motion be tabled.


If the discussion becomes a heated debate, the President will intervene and request a motion with regards to the subject and then discussion on the motion. If the President wishes to take part in the debate, the meeting must be turned over to another chairperson.

All discussions regarding projects, social, etc... should be done after a motion is made.


When the Chair feels discussion has been sufficient, the question is repeated: "it is moved that ... (The Motion) and asks for a vote. Those in Favour? Those Opposed? And the results are announced.

A tie vote - when both sides have an equal number of votes, it is counted as a "No" vote and the motion is defeated.

The Chair is never required to vote unless he/she chooses to do so.

The Chair may vote only to "make or break" a tie.

The difference between a majority and a plurality vote:

A majority vote is, simply more than half of all the votes cast.

A plurality vote is, simply, "more than anyone else got", but can be less than half. For example, if three candidates are running for office and [a] gets 45% of the total vote, [b] gets 35% and [c] gets 20%, then [a] has a plurality vote, but not a majority vote.

In some cases, the rules require that if no one candidate receives a majority vote, a run-off election must be held and no one can be elected with less than a majority. The rule-of-thumb is that a majority vote is required for almost all ordinary business; a two thirds vote is required when the members' rights are to be suspended.