The Green Party of Canada uses a consensus seeking procedure: if possible, we work to make a motion acceptable to all participants, not a simple majority. We do not use Robert's or Bourinot's Rules of Order in order to make decisions. Instead, we Greens believe that each person involved in a decision has a piece of the truth. Therefore, Greens believe that amendments to a motion strengthen it, as opposed to the traditional belief that they dilute the motion's strength.
This does not mean that total agreement on everything is required. If a person is unhappy with a motion but is not sufficiently opposed to stop it from proceeding, that person may stand aside. This person's reasons for opposing the motion are noted for future reference. If a person is sufficiently opposed to a motion as it stands to stop it from proceeding, that person may block the motion providing the person is a member in good standing and the principle for blocking is consistent with the Party's constitution and values. A blocked motion is either tabled, amended, referred to a committee for more work, or proceeds to a deciding vote.
In a large plenary, coloured cards may be used to indicate people's intentions toward a motion: A yellow card indicates that they need more clarification or information before they can consent to or reject the motion. A green card indicates that a person understands the motion and consents to it. A red card indicates that they understand the motion and object to it.
Some Procedure Definitions
- This person has a similar role to a chairperson under Robert's Rules of Order. It is the facilitator's responsibility to moderate the discussion and fate of proposals. In the event of a tie vote, the facilitator does not have the deciding vote. Instead, the resolution is not passed.
- This person should be of the opposite gender to the facilitator and is responsible for keeping a speakers' list and also taking the facilitator's role if the facilitator wishes to involve her or himself in the discussion. The facilitators may not block or vote.
- This person is responsible for keeping records of all resolutions and amendments proposed, either passed or cancelled, along with some context. The recorder also reads the resolution whenever clarification or confirmation is requested.
- This person is responsible for keeping track of how long the group spends on each topic and reminding the facilitator if a particular item is about to or has exceeded its time limit.
- Speakers' List:
- This can be two lists, one of women wishing to speak to an issue and one of men wishing to do so. The facilitator alternates between these two lists when asking people to speak.
- Straw Vote:
- This is not the same as a deciding vote, as a straw vote is not binding on a decision. Straw votes are sometimes used by facilitators to make a determination of the will of the group on a particular idea or procedure.
- Standing Aside:
- A person who abstains from a motion or does not object to a motion strong enough to stop it from passing may stand aside. Members who stand aside may request their reasons for standing aside to be recorded in the minutes.
A Procedure Summary
- A sponsor or the facilitator presents the resolution on the floor for discussion.
- The facilitator then asks for a moment of silence during which everyone considers the resolution and notes any points of information they have or need.
- The facilitator then asks if anyone needs clarification of the resolution presented. Those clarifications are made either by the facilitator, the recorder, the resolution's sponsor, or other person at the meeting.
- Discussion then takes place until
- a consensus is reached,
- it becomes clear that no consensus can be reached, or
- it is agreed that the resolution is sent back to a workgroup or it's sponsors for more work.
- In the event that there is no consensus, a straw vote is taken to determine support for
- tabling the resolution,
- sending the resolution back for more work, or
- going to a deciding vote.
- If a deciding vote is taken and if more than 2/3 (66.6%) are in favour of the motion, the motion carries. Only members in good standing may participate in a deciding vote.
- Resolutions sent back for more work may be represented at a future plenary or meeting.
(Note: This procedure is used in plenary. Workgroups use a more informal approach, omitting steps 5 through 7)