Communique #2 – Resolutions
National Chairperson of Resolutions Cathy Bouchard, January 17, 2019
The national executive [board] is undertaking changes in the resolutions process. A committee was struck to look for areas of improvement, particularly when members debate “wordsmithing” rather than the content of a resolution on the convention floor. The hope is to streamline the process and focus on the issues addressed in resolutions. The committee wishes to emphasize the role of the spiritual advisor as part of the committee. The matter in question is how to move issues of concern from parish to national level in an acceptable format. Parish councils should focus on the topic and consider utilizing experienced members in the writing of resolutions. It needs to be emphasized that a well-written resolution is a strong statement of the League position.
Below are some of the proposed improvements to the resolutions process being carried out by the national resolutions committee:
a. Encourage formation of longer-term resolution committees at diocesan and provincial levels to assist in the preparation of resolutions, i.e. committees of expertise that continue longer than two years.
b. Involve an editor and an expert in the subject area(s) of the resolution in the rewrite/ refinement process.
c. Compile and make available to provincial and national levels a resource list and contact information of professionals.
d. Offer assistance in the preparation of resolutions and training of provincial chairpersons of resolutions, perhaps through a workshop/webinar.
e. Through the national chairperson of resolutions:
• Request topics of resolutions in the fall.
• Contact provincial executives to request the drafts/intent of provincial resolutions under consideration in March.
• Share the drafts/intent among the provincial chairpersons of resolutions in order to avoid duplication or share ideas. (The goal is to raise members’ awareness of issues and access capable assistance in the writing process.)
• Compile a list of drafts/intents and share it with committee members, including the national spiritual advisor, to become familiarized with the topics.
• Coordinate the sharing of resolutions adopted provincially among provincial councils to facilitate research and study on the official positions of the provincial councils. This will also provide members at other levels awareness of what will be discussed at the national convention.
f. Emphasize the importance of the national spiritual advisor’s attendance at resolutions meetings to advise on the position of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops that the League may not be aware of. If he is unable to attend, an alternate representative should be appointed.
g. Make every effort to ensure that all proposed resolutions, with sufficient support for the proposed position, are well articulated and delivered to board members the day before the pre-convention meeting (at registration).
h. Provide clarity around the adoption at provincial/national levels regarding when action can be taken. Following a review by the committee regarding a resolution adopted at the provincial level and forwarded to the national level for consideration, if the committee recommends that the resolution will not come to the convention floor because it is not a national but a provincial issue, the resolution will be returned to the province for action. [Essentially, national has not taken ownership of the gift of the resolution so the provincial council takes back ownership and can work on the resolution. A letter will be sent to the submitting provincial council to inform it of this decision.] i. Work, as time is available, to correct the format of resolutions rather than reject a proposed resolution for format.
Summary of recommendations
• The new process will be tested for the 2019 convention year.
• Education of members to the new process is key to the roll out.
• Resolutions will be accepted as League positions (education component).
• The new process will be evaluated following the convention and, with revisions based on the testing of the process, will be formally adopted by the board.
Presenting the Resolutions
1. Resolutions packages “Disposition of Resolutions”: recommendations to the board at pre-convention meetings (presentation on the convention floor/distribution to standing committee for action and awareness/distribution to provincial presidents for action or not recommended) are to be given to board members at the registration desk before meetings begin.
2. Resolutions Dialogue: The new process for the presentation of resolutions will be shared and clarified for members at the resolutions dialogue. Educating members in the new process is key.
• The “resolved clause” will be referred to as the resolution for the purposes of the motion/debate.
• The “whereas clauses” will no longer be presented as part of the resolution. The material that was previously contained in the “whereas clauses” will be part of the brief. There has been difficulty in adopting resolutions because members do not support the “whereas clauses” or because the clauses did not match the brief.
• Members will receive the “resolved clauses” and briefs at the resolutions dialogue, and will be invited to review the resolutions focusing on questions such as, “Is this an issue for the League? Is this resolution timely/emergent?”
• Suggestions for wording changes to the resolution will evolve from the resolutions dialogue, recognizing that the resolutions have already been refined from parish to diocesan to provincial to national level. Recommendations are provided to the resolutions committee at this time (not on the convention floor) and worked on by the committee. Only expedient changes will be reviewed and are to be submitted before the resolution comes to the convention floor. Input should reflect any new concern on this issue; is it timely or urgent?
3. National Convention: Only key parts of the standing rules will be read at the start of convention. The chairperson will be firm about keeping the debate on the topic and on the standing rule that a person speaks only once to the resolution. The standing rules will be followed once adopted. A disciplined approach is needed when bringing resolutions to the floor, while not stifling members.
The resolution is a position of the League forming policy. Resolutions should be addressed to a League position. Does it speak to the concerns of the membership? (Education of members)
Resolution presented to national convention assembled (streamlining the presentation of the resolution): Debate will speak to why the resolution is timely, important and why the League should be concerned about it.
“RESOLVED that the national council of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada in xxth annual national convention assembled urge (the federal government) to …”
When the resolution comes to the convention floor, it is ready to be debated and adopted or defeated.
The provincial council gifting the resolution will be first to speak to the resolution.
Only the resolved clauses will be discussed.
Robert’s Rules of Order advises against putting preambles/whereas clauses in the body of the motion.
The Preamble (Whereas clauses) will no longer be a focus of the resolution. “It is usually inadvisable to attempt to include reasons for a motion’s adoption with the motion itself. To do so may encumber the motion and may weigh against its adoption- since some members who approve of the action it proposes may dislike voting for it if it states reasons with which they disagree…. It should be emphasized that neither rule nor custom requires a resolution to have a preamble, and one should not be used merely for the sake of form. In general, the use of a preamble should be limited to cases where it provides little-known information without which the point or the merits of a resolution are likely to be poorly understood, where unusual importance is attached to making certain reasons for an action a matter of record, or the like.” Roberts Rules of Order, 11th edition p. 106 lines 34 – 107 lines 1 – 17
4. Consider for the future:
• A resolutions committee that continues regardless of the elections cycle.
• A professional committee to develop the final draft of the resolution.
• Expertise including a parliamentarian/editor and two to three members who are “expert” at writing resolutions.
• Develop a list of resource persons/experts on specific topics to share with provincial councils.
The proposed changes to the Resolutions Supplement to the Executive Handbook are attached with the suggested changes highlighted in red. Please read this material carefully and forward any suggested changes or items that need clarification to me as soon as you can.