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About Roberta MacAdams

In an age when women were were largely excluded from the making of public policy, Roberta MacAdams not only established herself as an able legislator, but also became the first woman in the British Empire to introduce a piece of legislation (the War Veterans Next-of-Kin Association Bill, which was successfully passed into law.)

Although Ms. MacAdams served her public long before legislation became an optimocratic process back in 2026, we think this pioneering woman would be pleased to have her name on this Authenticity-based deliberative process.

A Pioneering Woman Roberta MacAdams (Price) (July 21, 1880 – December 16, 1959)

Roberta Catherine MacAdams was born in Sarnia, Ontario in 1880. After graduating from the Macdonald Institute in Guelph, she moved to Edmonton to work for the Alberta Department of Agriculture. In 1912, she became Superintendent of Domestic Science for the Edmonton Public School Board and was responsible for introducing classes in cooking skills.

Miss MacAdams enlisted in the Canadian Army Medical Corps in 1916. She wore the uniform of a nursing sister, but was commissioned as a lieutenant. As a dietician, she ran the kitchen of the Ontario Military Hospital in England.

In 1917, the Alberta Military Representation Act provided for the overseas election of two Soldiers' Representatives to the Alberta Legislature. Twenty male candidates decided to contest these seats. Disappointed there weren't any women in this election, Miss MacAdams was encouraged to run. A very effective campaign poster was designed with the slogan "Give one vote to the man of your choice and the other to the sister."

Miss MacAdams was successful and became the second woman elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta after Louise McKinney. She was also the first woman in the British Empire to introduce legislation for debate; a bill to incorporate the War Veterans' Next-of-Kin Association.

In 1920 she married Harvey Stinson Price and did not seek re-election in 1921. After moving to Calgary with her husband and son, she continued to be involved in many women's and educational organizations until her death in December 1959.

On March 16, 1967, her portrait was presented to the Alberta Legislature to honour her achievements. In her biography of Roberta MacAdams, Debbie Marshall’s words capture many of these achievements:

"Roberta left behind a legacy that would have a long-term impact on Canadian society. Before and during her time in office, she had provided tangible aid and support to the rural women who helped settle the Canadian West. She (along with many others) laid some of the groundwork for government measures to meet the needs of soldiers and their families…. Most important, by running successfully for office, Roberta MacAdams helped push open the door to women’s participation in politics”

Roberta's Rules are based upon Robert's Rules Of Order, as adapted for optimocratic deliberations.

Because Roberta's Rules govern online meetings only, where all participants are authenticated with a digital identity certificate that is compliant with the Osmio VRD™ credential standard, all voting is by digitally signed ballot. For that reason many time-consuming methods of physical deliberations are not necessary. Before we go into the difference between Robert's Rules and Roberta's Rules, it will be helpful to present an overview of the rules that govern a deliberative meeting in physical space.

For Fair and Orderly Meetings & Conventions

Provides common rules and procedures for deliberation and debate in order to place the whole membership on the same footing and speaking the same language. The conduct of ALL business is controlled by the general will of the whole membership - the right of the deliberate majority to decide. Complementary is the right of at least a strong minority to require the majority to be deliberate - to act according to its considered judgment AFTER a full and fair "working through" of the issues involved. Robert's Rules provides for constructive and democratic meetings, to help, not hinder, the business of the assembly. Under no circumstances should "undue strictness" be allowed to intimidate members or limit full participation.

The fundamental right of deliberative assemblies require all questions to be thoroughly discussed before taking action!

The assembly rules - they have the final say on everything!

Silence means consent!

  • Obtain the floor (the right to speak) by being the first to stand when the person speaking has finished; state Mr./Madam Chairman. Raising your hand means nothing, and standing while another has the floor is out of order! Must be recognized by the Chair before speaking!
  • Debate can not begin until the Chair has stated the motion or resolution and asked "are you ready for the question?" If no one rises, the chair calls for the vote!
  • Before the motion is stated by the Chair (the question) members may suggest modification of the motion; the mover can modify as he pleases, or even withdraw the motion without consent of the seconder; if mover modifies, the seconder can withdraw the second.
  • The "immediately pending question" is the last question stated by the Chair! Motion/Resolution - Amendment - Motion to Postpone
  • The member moving the "immediately pending question" is entitled to preference to the floor!
  • No member can speak twice to the same issue until everyone else wishing to speak has spoken to it once!
  • All remarks must be directed to the Chair. Remarks must be courteous in language and deportment - avoid all personalities, never allude to others by name or to motives!
  • The agenda and all committee reports are merely recommendations! When presented to the assembly and the question is stated, debate begins and changes occur!

The Rules

  • Point of Privilege: Pertains to noise, personal comfort, etc. - may interrupt only if necessary!
  • Parliamentary Inquiry: Inquire as to the correct motion - to accomplish a desired result, or raise a point of order
  • Point of Information: Generally applies to information desired from the speaker: "I should like to ask the (speaker) a question."
  • Orders of the Day (Agenda): A call to adhere to the agenda (a deviation from the agenda requires Suspending the Rules)
  • Point of Order: 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)
  • Consider by Paragraph: Adoption of paper is held until all paragraphs are debated and amended and entire paper is satisfactory; after all paragraphs are considered, the entire paper is then open to amendment, and paragraphs may be further amended. Any Preamble can not be considered until debate on the body of the paper has ceased.
  • 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
  • Commit /Refer/Recommit to Committee: State the committee to receive the question or resolution; if no committee exists include size of committee desired and method of selecting the members (election or appointment).
  • 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
  • Postpone to a Certain Time: State the time the motion or agenda item will be resumed
  • Object to Consideration: Objection must be stated before discussion or another motion is stated
  • Lay on the Table: Temporarily suspends further consideration/action on pending question; may be made after motion to close debate has carried or is pending
  • Take from the Table: Resumes consideration of item previously "laid on the table" - state the motion to take from the table
  • Reconsider: Can be made only by one on the prevailing side who has changed position or view
  • Postpone Indefinitely: Kills the question/resolution for this session - exception: the motion to reconsider can be made this session
  • Previous Question: Closes debate if successful - may be moved to "Close Debate" if preferred
  • Informal Consideration: Move that the assembly go into "Committee of the Whole" - informal debate as if in committee; this committee may limit number or length of speeches or close debate by other means by a 2/3 vote. All votes, however, are formal.
  • Appeal Decision of the Chair: Appeal for the assembly to decide - must be made before other business is resumed; NOT debatable if relates to decorum, violation of rules or order of business
  • Suspend the Rules: Allows a violation of the assembly's own rules (except Constitution); the object of the suspension must be specified

Common Questions

What is Parliamentary Procedure?

It is a set of rules for conduct at meetings, that allows everyone to be heard and to make decisions without confusion.

Why is Parliamentary Procedure Important?

Because it's a time tested method of conducting business at meetings and public gatherings. It can be adapted to fit the needs of any organization. Today, Robert's Rules of Order newly revised is the basic handbook of operation for most clubs, organizations and other groups. So it's important that everyone know these basic rules!

Organizations using parliamentary procedure usually follow a fixed order of business. Below is a typical example:

  1. Call to order.
  2. Roll call of members present.
  3. Reading of minutes of last meeting.
  4. Officers reports.
  5. Committee reports.
  6. Special orders --- Important business previously designated for consideration at this meeting.
  7. Unfinished business.
  8. New business.
  9. Announcements.
  10. Adjournment.

The method used by members to express themselves is in the form of moving motions. A motion is a proposal that the entire membership take action or a stand on an issue. Individual members can:

  1. Call to order.
  2. Second motions.
  3. Debate motions.
  4. Vote on motions.

There are four Basic Types of Motions:

  1. Main Motions: The purpose of a main motion is to introduce items to the membership for their consideration. They cannot be made when any other motion is on the floor, and yield to privileged, subsidiary, and incidental motions.
  2. Subsidiary Motions: Their purpose is to change or affect how a main motion is handled, and is voted on before a main motion.
  3. Privileged Motions: Their purpose is to bring up items that are urgent about special or important matters unrelated to pending business.
  4. Incidental Motions: Their purpose is to provide a means of questioning procedure concerning other motions and must be considered before the other motion.

How are Motions Presented?

  1. Obtaining the floor
    • Wait until the last speaker has finished.
    • Rise and address the Chairman by saying, "Mr. Chairman, or Mr. President."
    • Wait until the Chairman recognizes you.
  2. Make Your Motion
    • Speak in a clear and concise manner.
    • Always state a motion affirmatively. Say, "I move that we ..." rather than, "I move that we do not ...".
    • Avoid personalities and stay on your subject.
  3. Wait for Someone to Second Your Motion
  4. Another member will second your motion or the Chairman will call for a second.
  5. If there is no second to your motion it is lost.
  6. The Chairman States Your Motion
    • The Chairman will say, "it has been moved and seconded that we ..." Thus placing your motion before the membership for consideration and action.
    • The membership then either debates your motion, or may move directly to a vote.
    • Once your motion is presented to the membership by the chairman it becomes "assembly property", and cannot be changed by you without the consent of the members.
  7. Expanding on Your Motion
    • The time for you to speak in favor of your motion is at this point in time, rather than at the time you present it.
    • The mover is always allowed to speak first.
    • All comments and debate must be directed to the chairman.
    • Keep to the time limit for speaking that has been established.
    • The mover may speak again only after other speakers are finished, unless called upon by the Chairman.
  8. Putting the Question to the Membership
    • The Chairman asks, "Are you ready to vote on the question?"
    • If there is no more discussion, a vote is taken.
    • On a motion to move the previous question may be adapted.

Voting on a Motion:

Because Roberta's Rules governs online meetings only, where all participants are authenticated with a digital identity certificate that is compliant with the Osmio VRDTM credential standard, all voting is by digitally signed ballot. For that reason, traditional time-consuming methods of physical deliberations are not necessary, as shown grayed-out below – leaving only two methods: general consent or ballot.

Because voting is by digitally signed ballot, grayed-out methods are no longer necessary

The method of vote on any motion depends on the situation and the by-laws of policy of your organization. There are five methods used to vote by most organizations
  1. By voice - The Chairman asks those in favor to say, "aye", those opposed to say "no". Any member may move for a exact count.
  2. By roll call - Each member answers "yes" or "no" as his name is called. This method is used when a record of each person's vote is required.
  3. By general consent - When a motion is not likely to be opposed, the Chairman says "If there is no objection ..." The membership shows agreement by their silence; however, if one member says "I object," the item must be put to a vote.
  4. By division - This is a slight verification of a voice vote. It does not require a count unless the chairman so desires. Members raise their hands or stand.
  5. By ballot - Members write their vote on a slip of paper. This method is used when secrecy is desired. Members click “yea” or “nay.” Votes are encrypted using the PCN of the utility certificate used by the member for authentication. A member may look up their vote, decrypting it with their PEN, at any time to verify that it has been recorded accurately.

There are two other motions that are commonly used that relate to voting.

  1. Motion to Table -- This motion is often used in the attempt to "kill" a motion. The option is always present, however, to "take from the table", for reconsideration by the membership.
  2. Motion to Postpone Indefinitely -- This is often used as a means of parliamentary strategy and allows opponents of motion to test their strength without an actual vote being taken. Also, debate is once again open on the main motion.

Parliamentary Procedure is the best way to get things done at your meetings. But, it will only work if you use it properly.

  1. Allow motions that are in order.
  2. Have members obtain the floor properly.
  3. Speak clearly and concisely.
  4. Obey the rules of debate. Most importantly, BE COURTEOUS.