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Mini-Debate Marathon

The Mini-Debate Marathon is a special openhouse event for members and guests of the Toronto Debating Society. The debates are open to everyone - members and guest alike. The speakers can chose the debates and the positions they wish to take during the evening. It's a good opportunity to encourage new members to participate in a debate that does not require research and has a lower burden of evidence to make a case. The audiece becomes the judge.


The evening will consist of several mini debates between two speakers, the Prime Minister or the responding Leader of the Opposition. The PM will speak for 2:00, the LO will respond for 3:00 and finally the PM will have the final word for 1:00. The winner will be chosen by a show of hands from the audience.


Implementation instructions for education executive

  • The event is chaired and hosted by the education executive. The education executive shall be speaker for each mini-debate.

  • There are two debaters in each mini-debate. Each mini-debate lasts for a total of approximately 8 minutes. (See below for timing breakdown).



Procedure for selection of topics

  • The Speaker prepares a list of twelve topics and submits the list to the President at least one week prior to the meeting for discussion and to ensure that the topics are “debatable.”

  • To the membership executive: the list of topics is printed on the back of the official meeting agenda such that everyone has their own copy.

  • The Speaker invites the audience to submit their names to debate for or against the motion during the break. Participants sign up on one single sheet at the front table (template available in .pdf on this page).

  • Sequence of sign-up:

    1. People who have not debated before or new members may sign-up for one.

    2. Everyone else may sign-up for one.

    3. From the podium, the speaker will ask for volunteers for any remaining positions or debates (free for all).


Debate procedures

The Speaker runs the mini debates from the list in sequential order. Twelve mini-debates should be scheduled for the marathon.


Suggested Steps:

Speaker reads out the topic and invites the Prime Minister to the lectern.

Prime Minister speaks “For the motion” and presents arguments in favor of the resolution (2:00)

Speaker invites the Leader of the Opposition to the lectern.

Leader of the Opposition refutes the Prime Minister’s arguments presents counter-arguments “Against the motion.” (3:00)

Speaker invites the Prime Minister back to the lectern.

Prime Minister refutes the Leader of the Opposition’s arguments and delivers his closing comments “For the motion.”(1:00)


Vote Tally:

Speaker asks the participants to bow their heads and close their eyes, then asked the audience for a show of hands for those who are in favour of the motion, and counts the number of votes. Next, a show of hands for those who are, “Against the motion”. Speakres announces a winner, but does not reveal vote count.

If there is a tie in the number of votes, the speaker makes the final decision on the winner of the debate.



The speaker is responsible for ensuring that the timing is adhered to by each participant, and can interject if the debater continues beyond the allotted time.


Time keeping:

Government: one bell at 1:00, two bells at 2:00

Opposition: one bell at 2:00, two bells at 3:00
Gov't Summation: two bells at 1:00

Mini-debate sign-up sheet
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