A point of order is raised when a Member believes that the rules or customary procedures of the House have been incorrectly applied or overlooked during the proceedings. A point of order may be raised at virtually any time in the proceedings, provided it is raised and concisely argued as soon as possible after the irregularity occurs.
Points of order are often raised by Members seeking to obtain the unanimous consent of the House in order to avoid the notice provisions of the Standing Orders. For example, unanimous consent is often sought to waive the notice requirement to introduce a substantive motion or a bill.
Points of order respecting procedure must be raised promptly, before proceedings have reached a point at which the objection would be out of place. It is the responsibility of the Speaker to determine the merits of a point of order and to resolve the issue.
Any Member can interrupt a Member who has the floor of the House during debate and bring to the Chair’s attention a procedural irregularity the moment it occurs. When recognized on a point of order, a Member should state only the Standing Order or practice that he or she considers to have been breached.
There are, however, numerous exceptions to the rule that a point of order must be raised at the moment a procedural irregularity occurs. Points of order arising out of the debate on the adjournment motion (Adjournment Proceedings) are taken up the next sitting day. Points of order arising out of Question Period or the time set aside for Statements by Members are usually delayed until after Question Period.
A Member may not direct remarks to the House or engage in debate under the guise of a point of order. A Member may not rise on a point of order to move a motion, with the exception of a motion that another Member be now heard.
A point of order may be raised after debate has concluded but before the Speaker puts the question, or after the vote has been taken, but a Member may not interrupt the Speaker when he or she is putting the question to the House. If attention is called to a breach of order during the course of a division, the division is completed before the point of order is dealt with.
The Speaker has the duty to preserve order and decorum and to decide any matter of procedure that may arise. The Chair is required to call the attention of the House to an irregularity in debate or procedure immediately, without waiting for the intervention of a Member. In addition, the Speaker decides questions of order once they arise and not in anticipation. Though raised on a point of order, hypothetical queries on procedure cannot be addressed to the Speaker, nor may constitutional questions or questions of law.
When a point of order is raised, the Speaker attempts to rule on the matter immediately. However, if necessary, the Speaker may take the matter under advisement and come back to the House later with a formal ruling. The Speaker may also allow discussion on the point of order before coming to a decision. Once the decision is rendered, the matter is no longer open to debate or discussion and the ruling cannot be appealed to the House.