top of page

To provide an open and inclusive forum for people to develop and exercise public speaking skills, participate in interactive discussion on a variety of current topics, build confidence in impromptu speaking, learn the art of persuasive arguments and master the logical progression of a substantive argument. Debating style reflects the traditions of parliamentary democracy; in the pursuit of which a parliamentary mode of speech and behavior shall be maintained.


DEBATE a wide range of topics with different styles and formats.

EMPOWER members to communicate openly and effectively.

BENEFIT the community through outreach programs.

ACCLAIM speakers of opposing arguments.

TREAT members and guests with respect and consideration.

EXPRESS the majority interests of club members through good governance.



Members are entitled to participate in any and/or all of the club activities, including but not limited to public speaking, debating, executive board participation and all related club activities. Membership shall consist of active members in good standing who have paid their annual dues.


Guests are welcome to attend all meetings, participate in public speaking and participate in extra-curricular activities. Guests are not permitted to debate.


The Toronto Debating Society retains the right to photograph, record, manage and publish any and/or all debates, activities and events that are organized by the TDS. Should any individual choose not to have their person/image published they should inform the Director of Communications electronically or in writing ahead of time, at the beginning of the season, or once they become active members.


The club will not willingly or knowingly provide any member’s surname or personal contact information to anyone who is not an active member of the club. All contact information will be retained for the sole purpose of managing the member database. No active or former member will be permitted to use anyone’s contact information under any circumstance unless it is directly for the purposes of intra-club communication for the Toronto Debating Society. Contact information for extra-curricular activities, such as community outreach, may only be used with the express permission of each individual in writing or electronically to the officer who is co-ordinating the event.


The Toronto Debating Society is a community club run by members for members.


It is organized by an executive board of volunteers who are elected to their positions by majority vote of fifty percent plus one of the members present at the last regular meeting of the season. In the event of a tie, the Speaker will recuse themself from voting.


The executive board is a steering committee that selects debate resolutions and facilitates the smooth operation of the club. It is committed to the viability and success of the TDS.


The bi-weekly operations of the Toronto Debating Society, administrative operations and all financial commitments are overseen by Officers of the club.



You must be a member in good standing to be listed on the agenda for a debate.  Each speaker has a particular role within a debate and must follow the procedures associated with their position. In the event a speaker who has volunteered for a particular role needs to withdraw, that speaker is responsible for finding a replacement.

Debate participants are not permitted to use any electronic equipment, or devices, to seek online information during a debate. Participants are permitted to refer to electronic notes that have been prepared ahead of time (i.e. reading their points from a digital screen).



Officers of the executive must be active members in good standing. They fulfill the obligations as outlined for the following positions: President, Vice President of Community Outreach, Membership Director, Education Director, Director of Communications, Treasurer, Debate Editor/Secretary, Digital Editor, Past President.


Nominations and elections occur during the final meeting of the season in May. All members are encouraged and eligible to run for any position. Nominations are put forward by the outgoing president, upon request, and by any member who nominates his/herself at the time of the election. All nominees must have a seconder in order to initiate a vote. In the event there is only one nominee, they will be appointed by acclamation through the President.


The term of office of such officers elected during regular elections shall commence on the final meeting of the season in May at which they were elected and continue for one year. Any officer may resign at any time upon written notice to the President. Under extraordinary circumstances, any officer may be removed from office by a two-thirds vote of the members present at a regular meeting.

Committee Reports

All committees shall submit their reports in writing provided that a verbal report may be accepted if authorized or approved by vote of a majority of the members present at any meeting.


Every proposed alteration, amendment, or addition to the Constitution or By-laws shall be by notice of motion in writing, or sent electronically, to the President or acting President during the business part of the regular meeting, who shall publish the same to the Club forthwith. The same shall be dealt with if duly moved and seconded, at the next regular meeting and shall be adopted on receiving at least a two-thirds vote of the active members of the club who are present. No motion shall be debatable until seconded.

Before taking a vote on any question the President shall ask: "Are you ready for the vote?" Should no one offer to speak the  President shall hammer the gavel on the podium and put the question, after which no member shall speak upon it without permission of the Club.

An appeal may in all cases be made from any decision of the President, and by extension the executive committee, proving there is a motion that is seconded; a two-thirds vote of the members present shall be necessary to sustain the appeal.




The Toronto Debating Society shall hold its meetings in the Council Chamber of the Swansea Town Hall at 95 Lavinia Avenue every second Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. commencing the first or second Tuesday after Labour Day until the end of May the following calendar year.


Order of Business

The order of business at regular meetings shall be conducted int he following manner:

  1. Call the meeting to order.

  2. Welcome by the President or Speaker including club business and/or executive reports and or topic for comment during introductions.

  3. Introductions.

  4. Impromptu speaking.

  5. 10 minute recess.

  6. Speaker define resolution and delivers Motion.

  7. Debate.

  8. Club deliberation / post-mortem of debate and popular vote.

  9. Adjudication.

  10. Results and awards presentation.

  11. Closing remarks and adjournment.


Conduct of Business

The President, or in their absence the Speaker, shall take the chair at the commencement of the meeting. In the absence of these officers a pro-tem Speaker shall be chosen by the Club.

Officers Duties


The President provides direction to the Toronto Debating Society (TDS) by carrying out the following duties: Ensures that TDS remains focused on the pursuit of its goals, Coordinates the executive committee, Encourages member participation, Organizes executive meetings to discuss business and decide debate topics, presides over meetings of the TDS or delegates this role. The President is one of two signing officers for the Toronto Debating Society community club bank account. Will be responsible for one of the two keys assigned for the club locker.

Vice President Membership

The Vice President of Membership coordinates and represents TDS members by carrying out the following duties: Communicates regularly with membership regarding special events and debate scheduling, Creates and maintains our Visitor Orientation Guide, maintains volunteer registration for debating positions on online agendas, maintains the list of contacts and subscribers for the two mailing lists (members and general), obtains use-of-image from event participants via “opt-out book.” Will be responsible for one of the two keys assigned for the club locker.

Director of Education

The Director of Education organizes monthly educational presentations, Coordinates volunteers for speaking opportunities, contributes and coordinates a member educational guide, organizes bi-annual mini-debate marathons.

The Director of Education provides opportunities for the TDS to participate in the community: Promotes and arranges special events (e.g. Hart House Debates, Toastmasters, etc.), liaises with news media for publicity purposes and generates awareness through educational forums.

Director of Communications & Engagement

The Director of Communications coordinates marketing and social media efforts of the TDS, maintains the TDS website, maintains and creates events for social media, oversees the use of the video camera, delegates ad hoc member to records and edit debates,  publishes debate and event videos.


The Treasurer develops the budget, in consultation with the executive committee, recruits and assists potential members to sign up,  collects fees, maintains record of active [paid]  members, oversees expenditures, reports to the membership on TDS revenue and expenses, liaise with Swansea Town Hall and ensure rent is paid, maintain accounts with domain provider ( and, maintain accounts with affiliate groups and service providers to ensure accounts are in good standing. The Treasurer is one of two signing officers for the Toronto Debating Society community club bank account.

Debate Editor & Secretary

The Debate Editor ensures that our debate resolutions are “debatable.” Secretarial role includes taking minutes during executive meetings, managing club documentation.


Past President

The Past President is a voting ex-officio executive member without formal duties. The position is granted automatically to the President upon departure from office. S/he shall offer guidance to the incoming executive during the transition period, from June until December, in the interest of the smooth operation of the club.


In addition to the specific roles of each Executive team member, to help ensure the smooth operation of the TDS, additional responsibilities are shared:

  • Ensure podium is well-stocked with ballots and visitor guides.

  • Print and bring agenda / adjudication score card to meetings.

  • Print new member faceplates / cards.

The first executive to arrive at the meeting will help with initial meeting setup, which includes:

  • Greeting all members and guests.

  • Distributing visitor guides to guests and ask guests to sign our guestbook.

  • Ensuring lights are pointed at the podium and that the screen is drawn.


When either the President or Treasurer arrives, they will help with room setup by retrieving:

  • 2 x tripods, 2 x trophies, the bell, the stopwatch, the self-timer and the guestbook. At the end of the meeting,  these eight items will be returned to our storage area.


The TDS executive shall be committed to the viability and success of the community club.



Speaking roles

Each speaker has a particular role within a debate and must follow the procedures associated with their position. It is each speaker’s responsibility to be prepared for their role and be in attendance at the beginning of the meeting which they have volunteered to participate in. If a member signs up for a speaking role and is unable to attend, it is their responsibility to find a replacement.


This is the chair for the evening’s activities. The Speaker explains the format of the evening’s formal debate, explains the roles of the participants and introduces the participants as they come up to speak. In addition, after the formal debate, the Speaker will conduct the audience vote to determine the winner of the popular vote. The speaker remains impartial throughout the debate and discussion.

Impromptu Speech Organizer

The Impromptu Speech Organizer chooses a number of topics, often organized around a theme, and invites meeting attendees to speak on a topic chosen at random, generally for 1 minute, with no preparation time.

Time Keeper

The time keeper is responsible for timing impromptu presentations, formal debate speeches and audience participation commentaries. Through an audible bell, the time keeper notifies the presenter when 1 minute remains and when time has elapsed.

Prime Minister (PM)

The PM is the first speaker in favour of the resolution being debated. The PM is responsible for defining the terms in the proposition, establishing the Government’s lines of reasoning that support the motion and setting the foundation for the Member of the Government’s (MG) arguments.

Leader of the Opposition (LO)

The LO is the first person to speak against the resolution. The LO should address and attempt to dismiss each of the PM’s points one by one and also provide alternative viewpoints and examples to build and support the Opposition’s case.

Member of Government (MG)

The MG is the second speaker in favour of the proposition and is responsible for countering the LO’s arguments one by one, while expanding the PM’s points to support the Government’s position.

Member of Opposition (MO)

The MO is the second speaker against the proposition and, as the final speaker in the “constructive” portion of the debate, is the last person allowed to put forward new arguments. The MO will counter the arguments of the MG and further develop Opposition arguments.


The Adjudicator provides feedback to the speakers in the formal debate. In order, these are the essential responsibilities:

  1. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of the teams and the individual speakers and provide constructive criticism on how to improve.

  2. Assign each debating team a score as defined in this criteria such that the winner is determined correctly.

  3. Announce who won the debate. Score is presented to individual teams upon request.

A permanent copy of this Constitution and By-Laws is to be filed by the Secretary in his/her record book and made available electronically.

bottom of page