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Kelci Wilford

on 14 July 2017

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Transcript of Copy of CANADIAN DEBATE

A training guide for the University of Saskatchewan Debate Society
How it works
A BP Round
Front Half
Back Half
The Prime Minister
The Leader of the Opposition
The Deputy Prime Minister
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition
The Member of Government
The Member of Opposition
The Government Whip
The Opposition Whip
Points of Information
Short question or statement to challenge opponent's case
Can be given by anyone on the opposing side
First and last 30 seconds of each speech is protected - no POIs can be given
Not optional! Each debater must OFFER TWO in each opponent's speech, and ACCEPT TWO during their own speech
Giving POIs
To give a POI, just stand up. Extended hand is optional.

Wait to be accepted. If you are waved down, sit and wait at least 10-15 seconds before standing again.

Once you are accepted, BRIEFLY make your point - it is rude to monopolize the speaker's time, and the faster you make your point, the less time they have to come up with a clever response.

If you are waved down, sit down immediately.

If you don't want to challenge the case but just clarify it, say "point of clarification" as you stand up right after the PM's protected time.

Use POIs to keep your material in the round. If you're on back half, preview your extension with POIs. If you're on front half, remind everyone how great your points were

Taking POIs
When someone stands up on a POI, wave them down, accept them, or indicate that you will take them in a moment.

Wait until you are at the end of your thought - don't let them interrupt you.

Let them make their point, but if they're taking a long time (more than 15 seconds) wave them down

Say something in response, and then get back to your own points ASAP

If you don't understand what they're asking, answer as best you can and move on. Odds are the judges are confused too.

If you are Prime Minister, accept any points of clarification you may receive.
How to fill your time
Overview for Beginners
Shapes what the debate will look like, gets everyone on the same page

Get a picture in your head of what sorts of situations the round is supposed to be about, and make a model that addresses those situations. Brainstorm any other situations you can think of that might apply, and put points in your model that include or exclude what you do and don't want to talk about.

Aim for fairness and reasonableness - your model is your chance to avoid defending something stupid or crazy, but don't force the other side to defend something stupid or crazy either.

Some cases need no modeling, others need several minutes spent on this. ALWAYS take the time to decide what's needed!
Starts off the debate
Presents the model
Presents constructive material to forward their side's case
Opposes the motion presented by the Government
Presents constructive material to forward their case
Presents deconstructive material to tear down Government's case
Presents deconstructive material to tear down Opposition's case
Further builds on the PM's constructive case - does not need a separate point, but does need to say something new
Presents deconstructive material to tear down Government's case
Further builds on the LO's constructive case - does not need a separate point, but does need to say something new
Presents deconstructive material to tear down Opposition's case
Presents the Government extension
Presents deconstructive material to tear down the Government extension
Presents the Opposition extension
Summarizes the round for side government
Shows why Government extension is the most important argument
Deconstruction of Opposition extension is present in summary
New material is permitted, but should not be present - only summary
Summarizes the round for side Opposition
Shows why Opposition extension is the most important argument
No new material is permitted - only summary
Why I Am Right
Why are we talking about this topic?
What is the problem we are trying to solve?
Who is affected by this?
How would the world be different? How do we know that's the case?

The Why Well
We support this argument because...
And that's good because...
And we like it when that happens because...
And that's beneficial because...
And that's good because...
And that's good because...
And that's good because...
And that's good because...
And that's good because...
And that's good because...
And that's good because...
And that's good because...
And that's good because...
abel your argument
xplain what you mean by it
xample to back up your case
ie it back to the motion
"My first argument is the economic benefits of this motion"
"We would see economic benefits X,Y, and Z
and that would happen because...
and that's good because...
"When country X tried something similar, they saw a 1000% rise in employment"
"The best and/or only way to get these benefits is to implement this plan, therefore this motion must stand"
If you run out of things to say
If you freeze up
Dig deeper into the why well - explain why every single thing about your constructive points is awesome. Benefits that seem obvious to you might not be to everyone else, and at the very least it fills up time.
Spend more time on clash - tell the judges why the other side is wrong with all the detail you would put into telling the judges why you're right.
Summarize - remind us of what you just said. Remind us what your partner said. Remind us of how beautifully your points mesh with your partner's points. Remind us of how great your clash was. Don't repeat yourself, but concluding with a recap of your case is helpful even if you're not struggling to fill time.
Time yourself - plan how many minutes you'll spend on clash and on each constructive point. Don't let yourself move on until you've spent enough time on each part of your speech
Relax - take a deep breath and smile.
Look at your notes. Do you have any more notes about the point you were just making? If yes, go with that. If not, move on to your next argument. If you don't have anything left or you're not sure where you left off, just use the first thing that jumps out at you.
Say what's on the page. Even if it doesn't make sense to you, it's more likely to once you say it out loud. DON'T be afraid to say something stupid. The moment you freeze up is the moment your points seems way worse than they are.
Don't worry about using the right words or making it sound good. If you're struggling to say it eloquently, remember that simplicity is often the most persuasive. If you don't know how to say it concisely, there's no harm in taking the time you need to make yourself understood. Just keep talking!
The second you freeze up is not a good moment to take a POI, but if you've really got nothing after trying to get yourself back on-track, you can take one. Try to relate the answer to your own case, so you can keep talking even after you answered it.
If you're really stuck and really need to sit down, THAT'S OKAY. Freezing up does not make you a bad debater. This section exists because the VAST majority of debaters have done it at some point.
Also known as clash, refutation, engagement,or rebuttal
It's REALLY IMPORTANT - this is what makes it a debate, not just people giving speeches.
Set aside time in your speech for it, either before or after your constructive points.
Why you are wrong
Direct Clash
Global Clash
Directly deals with each of the other team's points
"they said X, and that's wrong because Y. They said A, that's wrong because of B"
Advantages - easy to come up with, easy to keep track of what's been dealt with
Disadvantages - easy to leave some points standing, poking holes is not as convincing as tearing down entire case
Challenges underlying premises, tearing down many points at once
"They said X and Y, which both assume that Z is true. A proves that Z is not true, so X and Y are wrong as well.
Advantages - efficiently takes down multiple points, shakes the foundation of opp's case
Disadvantages - not always easy to apply, can be unclear about what has been clashed with
Note-taking techniques vary a lot from person-to-person. Experiment to figure out what works for you.
It also depends a lot on what position you're in. The Prime Minister needs very different notes from the Opposition Whip.
They Say
We say
scurrilous lies
pernicious falsehoods
a fair if weak point
something brilliant
the bold truth
a clever revelation
the weak point's death knell
something more brilliant
This type of note-taking works well for direct clash

It separates your notes on what your opponents said from what you are planning on saying

It also makes it easy to see if there are any points that you do not have a response to.
Dividing your page like this allows for detailed notes for each speaker

This style is good for whip speakers who will be talking about the whole round in their speeches. It's also good for judging.

Some people use different colors of pens with this style to track who said what, what was clashed with, or what was important.
Front half teams should have around three constructive points.

Back half teams should have one.
Signposting and Organization
What is missing from
the debate so far?
The best extension:
Is my debate club using real words?
The first 4 speakers are called by their initials - PM, LO, DPM, DLO. The next two might be called MG and MO, but are usually just called Gov Extension and Opp Extension. The whips are always just called Gov Whip and Opp Whip
Proposition is interchangeable with Government, and "prop" is used the same way as "gov"
The teams are referred to as "opening government" "closing government" "opening opposition" and "closing opposition" or "first prop" "second prop" "first opp" and "second opp."
Points of Information are called POIs, but Points of Clarification are not shortened to POCs.
Whipping from any position
The value of the whip
Whip speakers are tasked with determining which arguments in the round are most important, and highlighting those to the benefit of their side
In reality, though, this is the job of every debater in the round. The only difference is that whip speakers are using material that is already out there.
The winning team in a BP round is whoever presents the material that is most important to the debate.
Prepping all constructive material as if it were a whip speech ensures that only the most germane arguments are put forward
Imagine your friend is telling you about this round after the fact. After they tell you the motion, could you guess what the whips' themes would have been?
Motions are set with a particular debate in mind. This doesn't mean that there are "right" or "wrong" arguments, but any motion will have obvious points of clash built in.
Building your case with those major points of clash in mind ensures that your arguments are important
If you are on front half, your three constructive points should be easily reworded into a whip's three questions
Why are we talking about this? What's the problem? Who cares?
First Proposition
Defining the major issues allows you to shape the round however you want
Hitting all the important points crowds out your back half
The biggest issues are easier to keep at the forefront. If they remain the most relevant issues in the round, it will be hard for the whip speaker not to whip for you
First Opposition
Pointing out the areas of contention forces prop to fight on your terms
Hitting all the important points crowds out your back half
The biggest issues are easier to keep at the forefront. If they remain the most relevant issues in the round, it will be hard for the whip speaker not to whip for you
Back Half Extensions
Never frame your extension as anything less than the most important point in the round
If your front half missed what you think is a major point of contention, you know what your extension needs to be.
If your front half covered its bases, expand or reframe a smaller point to seem more important. Show how its essential to your framework, or create a new framework.
Somebody's still whipping
Knowing what your themes will be from the outset makes it easy to slot arguments in while the round is happening
That being said, you have to whip the round that happened, not the one you wanted to happen. If other issues ended up at the forefront, you can't ignore them.
Avoid whipping for a strong front half. Start with the assumption that your partner's points are the best, and build your speech around that
Frontloading and effective deputies
Traditionally, multiple constructive points are divided between partners, which each having separate arguments that they are presenting. In recent years it has become more common in Canadian university debate to "frontload" - where the first speaker presents all the constructive material.
Why do it?
Gets all your constructive material in play immediately, allowing for better engagement in the front half of the round
Arguments are more flexible, can be adapted in second speech according to how the round is going
The First Speaker
The PM or LO presents all the constructive material. They are not just spitballing so it's out there - as much as possible, the first speaker gives the bulk of the explanation and examples. It might not be as detailed because there is less time, but each argument should be fully formed.
The DPM or DLO takes detailed notes during their partner's speech
The second speaker
The deputy is now free to do any number of things:
Provide points of analysis and examples the first speaker didn't get to
Reconstruct their partner's points to keep them in the round
Emphasize areas of the case that mesh with where the debate is going, play down anything that should be dropped.
Extensive deconstruction of opponent's case
Use partner's case as a tool for deconstruction
Every speech has to bring something NEW to the round
If you are just repeating verbatim your partner's point's, you're doing it wrong.
BUT distinct clash, strong reconstruction, and additional analysis are all just as legit as a new constructive point.

Poli Sci 101 for Debaters
The Pillars of Justice
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Mill's Harm Principle
The Social Contract
The Role of the State
The Oakes Test
Body Rights
Just War Theory
The Pillars are considerations for how crime is, or should be, dealt with. While there is a great deal of room to discuss which should be prioritized, in theory a good justice system will rest on all four pillars to some extent
The endeavour to make criminals stop being criminals
Reduction of recidivism (reoffending)
Everyone should be "functional and productive members of society"
Drawbacks are that it is often extremely costly and there is much disagreement about its effectiveness
Helping criminals to get back on their feet may be seen to be at odds with the principles of retribution
Proportional punishment
Breaking the law must carry a cost to the offender
Retribution is an inherent good and is not focused on future practical benefits - the benefit is that the scales of justice are returned to balance
May be seen as at odds with rehabilitative justice - being punished by society is not an incentive to positively reintegrate into that society
Emphasis is often on victim rights, especially in contrast with the rights of the offender
Consequences for committing crimes are necessary, so that would-be criminals refrain from illegal activity out of a desire to not face those consequences
The idea of proportionality is subjective, and problematic if miscalculated. An overly harsh penalty may constitute cruel and unusual punishment and cross the line from retribution into revenge, but the cost to society is not paid by a punishment that is not harsh enough.
Deterrent measures should work to dissuade the offender in question from re-offending, and should also act as a warning to society as a whole
Deterrence also relies on effective policing - criminals do not fear repercussions unless they believe they will be caught.
The psychology of crime can be difficult to rationalize, and motives are extremely varied. As such, it is not always possible to determine what sentences will actually lead to a deterring effect.
The state has an obligation to protect society by proactively preventing criminals from committing crimes
Often incapacitation is achieved through forced segregation from the rest of the population - i.e. imprisonment
Other measures may exist to incapacitate criminals in some contexts, e.g. cutting off a thief's hand, sex offender registries, the death penalty
Incapacitation can be valuable in making a community feel safe, but there is friction between it and concerns of proportionality and civil rights - it frames criminality as an identity rather than an act, and assumes that a criminal is always going to reoffend.
Maslow's theory is that all humans feel the same basic needs, and some needs take precedence over others.
Crucially, Maslow posited that an individual could not resolve, or even feel, an advanced need until all more basic needs were met. E.g. an individual who lacks basic security is not concerned with their need for respect.
The top tier of needs is self-actualization. The benefits of a policy or the motives behind someone's actions can be understood in terms of filling needs within the hierarchy, with the ultimate goal of self-actualizing.
While the hierarchy is occasionally useful in understanding human needs and motivations, it is not a catch-all - asserting that something will lead to self-actualization is terrible argumentation.
One of the flaws of Maslow's theory is the danger of dehumanizing those who are lower on the hierarchy - is it fair to say that starving people do not worry about their safety, love their family, or deserve the respect of others, simply because they are starving?
The Harm Principle is a fundamental underpinning of liberalism, conceived by John Stuart Mill
The principle states that no individual should be restricted from doing anything, so long as they are not causing harm to anyone else
Even if someone is causing harm to themselves, it is nobody's right or responsibility, especially not the state's, to intervene and usurp the free will of the individual
One exception that has been suggested is that an individual may not sell themselves into slavery, i.e. you cannot use your free will to give up your free will (interesting in rounds about drug addiction)
Positive & Negative Rights
Sovereignty and Statehood
While war is terrible, there are worse things, and sometimes those worse things demand military action. Just War Theory is a set of criteria used to determine the situations in which warfare can be considered moral. Just Wars must meet the criteria of both "Jus ad bellum" (you need a good reason to go to war) and "Jus in bello" (once you go to war, not all actions are acceptable)
Jus ad Bellum - the right to go to war
Just cause
- the intervention must be to protect innocent life
Comparative Justice
- one side must be suffering a far greater injustice at the hands of the other
Competent authority
- a government must be legitimate in order to declare war on behalf of its people
Right Intention
- the use of force must be to right a wrong, not to protect material interests
Probability of Success
- arms may not be taken up for a futile cause
Last resort
- all peaceful alternatives must have been exhausted
- the anticipated benefits must outweigh the anticipated harms
Jus in Bello - right conduct in war
- force must be directed only at enemy combatants, not civilians
- Any harm to civilians, directly or indirectly, must not be excessive in relation to military advantage gained by their harm
Military necessity
- even force used against enemy combatants must be the minimum necessary to achieve war aims
Fair treatment
- prisoners of war are no longer threats, and therefore must be well-treated
malum in se
instruments or tactics of war that are inherently evil are not to be used
Modern Legal Theory
Just War Theory as presented here is actually a religious doctrine, based in Catholic theology. However, its criteria are still useful in discussions of modern conflict regarding whether a war is MORAL
If you are trying to determine whether or not a war is LEGAL, the criteria are much simpler. Military action is only legal under international law if:
it is in self-defense, or
it has the backing of the United Nations Security Council
Keep in mind that international law is largely unenforceable. If a country takes illegal military action, there are few if any means of stopping or punishing them
The Westphalian Model
The Treaty of Westphalia was signed in 1648 to end the 30 Years War in Europe
In order to end the war, a new means of international order was conceived:
Equality + Non-Interference = Sovereignty
In other words, what's happening in another country is none of your business, and that applies across the board - every single country gets the same power over their internal affairs
The equality aspect of the equation also means that there cannot be any governing body more powerful than national governments, which means that international relations are effectively anarchical
The Westphalian model works when applied to
is a group of people who identify with each other and have common heritage, culture, and/or language.
is a government that has governing authority over a particular geographical area and the people who live there.
The Nation-State
, then is when those align - a State that governs a single entire Nation
Points where they do not align and a nation or part of a nation does not have their own state (which is common given the global history of colonialism) give rise to separatist movements, violence, and full-out conflict
The creation of Nation-States is also known as "self-determination" - allowing people to determine for themselves how they will be governed.
This has been a particularly important process in the post-colonial era - first as nations fought for independence from colonial rulers, and later as hastily-drawn borders have been reconsidered.
Self-determination is generally seen to be the best way to create peaceful and stable nation-states, with the most legitimate governments
However, there are still many parts of the world where minority groups feel disenfranchised and are prevented by their governments from self-determining
There are also many practical barriers to self-determination - nations are often poorly defined, or geographically dispersed. (fun game: divide up the Balkans in a way that causes the fewest genocides http://www.pilk.net/resources2/map.balkans3.jpg)
The End of the Nation-State?
In the 21st Century, there are many who claim that the Westphalian system is obsolete - or, if it's not, it should be. Here are some alternatives that are often discussed
The European Model
Since the end of World War 2, much of Europe has gradually shed many of the traditional powers of national sovereignty in exchange for a pan-continental union (The EU). While nation-states still exist within the EU, and there are still questions about its effectiveness (especially economically) many claim that the confederacy model of Europe is the future of international relations.
Non-State Actors
From a conflict perspective, there is an argument to be made that States are no longer relevant actors - it is rare for one country to go to war against another. Instead, conflict is either intra-national (civil wars) or spearheaded by organizations that have no official affiliation with any country (Al Qaeda).
Corporate Globalization
In the era of massive transnational corporations (TNCs), does the State hold any real power? Some development experts believe that , especially in the Global South, governments are entirely at the mercy of TNCs and make policy with the aim of attracting investment rather than the public good. TNCs must be headquartered in one country or another, but their global nature and sheer economic power raise questions about whether they are truly under anyone's jurisdiction.
Responsibility to Protect
One of the biggest difficulties of sovereignty is that it prevents international intervention even for humanitarian purposes. This means that genocides and other crimes against humanity can be carried out with impunity so long as the state doesn't interfere. In order to address this problem, Responsibility to Protect doctrine (R2P) proposes minor changes to the sovereignty model - a government's sovereignty cannot be infringed upon, UNLESS they are failing to protect their own people from the worst atrocities. In that event, the international community can (and must) violate sovereignty to intervene.
You are not trying to make a new point that wins the round, you are trying to show that your side, especially your partner, has already made the winning points.
Organization is EVERYTHING - you only have a few minutes to make sense of what happened in the last hour, so it has to be clear and concise.
A whip speech is a "biased summary" of the round.
Thematic approach - the most common format. Pick out what the three most important issues were and explain why you won in each of those areas. Whips often do this by asking and then answering three questions.
Team-by-team approach - give a very brief summary of what each team contributed to the round, explaining as you go how you clashed with both opposing teams and agreed with but outshone your front half.
Other approaches - there are no rules for how you do a whip speech, but it MUST give a sense of the big picture of the round in a very organized fashion.
Four teams of two people each
Two teams on government - supporting the motion
Two teams on opposition - opposing the motion
Motion is provided, and you are told which position you are in
15 minutes to prepare arguments with your partner
Each team prepares separately, but does not contradict the other team on their side
At the end of the round, the judges rank the teams first through fourth, and assign speaker scores based on individual performance
Taking Notes
An argument given by the back half team on each side
Cannot contradict your front half
Just one argument - if you have lots of ideas, tie them together with a common theme
Is the most important point in the round
Is a single point that is well-analysed
Fits in with the rest of the round
Clashes with your opponent's points
Complements but outshines your front half's case
As such,
use these theories with care
- knowing about them can be much more useful in destroying others' arguments that rely on Maslow, rather than relying on it yourself
Speeches are much more convincing when they are logically organized. You are trying to lead the judges to reach the same conclusions as you, so it needs to be clear how you're getting there.
You need to know how your speech is going to play out before you start it. The most basic outline is just a quick introduction, clash, constructive material, and summary, but your mileage may vary.

Then you need to stick to the game plan. It's really easy to get side-tracked on a tangent that can derail the rest of your speech. Sometimes side points end up being worth expanding on, but make sure to explain how they're relevant, and then get back to your main points as soon as possible.

Remember that people are writing down what you say. Imagine how your speech will look as it goes down on paper, and try to make that as clean and understandable as possible.
How do you know what will matter?
Western Liberal Democracies
A useful idea in modeling - when you need to decide where your debate takes place (to whom the model will apply) without creating too much focus on the peculiarities of any specific country
Western Liberal Democracies are a general group of countries that share roughly similar political, social, and economic values, and those values are the ones that most people in the debate are most likely to be familiar with:
Legitimate democratically elected government
Freedom of the press
Capitalist economy
High standard of living
Little to no violent conflict or human rights violations within its borders
Euro-centric culture
Individual-based value systems
Including but not limited to:

the United States
the United Kingdom
Western Europe/ EU
What is a Western Liberal Democracy?
When to use it
There are differences in values among all WLDs. The question is whether or not those discrepancies will mess up your round.
If you are proposing proportional representation electoral reform, generally WLDs share similar enough (even if they're not identical) values about what is important about democracy. It is not unreasonable to suggest that they all could benefit from similar reforms.
On the other hand, if you are proposing gun control, a model that pretends that the United States' approach to the issue would in any way resemble Canada's or the UK's will only lead to confusion - you must be more specific in deciding where to set the motion.
If you are proposing something you know to be status quo (already the case) in one or more WLDs but not all, do not set it in WLDs. Pick a country. Not the one where it is status quo. Consider whether your burden is fair.
A case that is not controversial and is easy to propose is considered to be "low burden" - the government does not have to work very hard to prove that they are right. Such a case may also be called "tight" - as in, there is very little room for meaningful opposition. Conversely, a proposal that requires a great deal of effort and skill to prove is a "high burden" case.
A burden in a debate is a hypothetical bundle of arguments that must be proven. Ideally, both sides would have roughly equal burdens - a well-balanced case is just as difficult to propose as it is to oppose.
Debate is never as fair as it should be. Some ideas are better than others. Some people just think that some ideas are better than others. Regardless, in order to make rounds as fair as possible, burden must always be considered.
What is Burden?
In a BP round, distribution of burden is mostly imposed by the wording of the motion - debaters do not have the bulk of the responsibility to create a fair round. However, the opening government team often has a fair amount of power over burden in how they model the case.
This is why it's important for first prop teams to model thoughtfully and fairly. Judges are looking for a model that allows for a round that is relevant, within the spirit of the motion, and distributes burden as evenly as the motion will allow.
There is always a limit as to how much a model can do to mitigate burden, and good judges will keep that in mind. Being on the high-burden side of a motion is difficult, but it shouldn't mean you have less of a chance of winning - in fact, a high burden can be advantageous.
What Debaters Can Do
What Judges Can Do
Judges must recognize burdens - it is not fair to penalize a team for failing to prove something that is very difficult to prove (or reward a team for proving something obvious). However, nor is it fair to automatically reward a team solely because they happened to be saddled with a high burden - they still have to do something with it. The best way to consider this is the "moving the ball" analogy.
A judge hears the motion or an argument and thinks, "that seems like a pretty good idea." They are predisposed to believe that it is true. On a scale of true to false, they are closer to true.
After the round, the judge still thinks that the motion or argument is pretty good. They have not been persuaded that it is false; they are still on the "true" side of the scale. However, they have seen good evidence that it COULD be false, and they feel less strongly that it is correct. Even though the judge has not changed their mind, opposition has still done a better job of debating because they have "moved the ball" (the ball being a sophisticated metaphor for the judge's opinion) further, and should therefore win.
Scenario One
A judge hears another motion or argument and again thinks, "that seems like a pretty good idea." On a scale of true to false, they are once again closer to true.
After the round, the judge still thinks that the motion or argument is pretty good. They have not been persuaded that it is false; they are no more convinced of its falsity than they were before, because proposition gave them reason to believe their initial assumptions were correct and/or the opposition failed to give them any substantial reasoning as to why they should reconsider their beliefs. In fact, it is likely that having their beliefs reaffirmed will lead the judge to feel more strongly that their assumptions were correct, and as such the proposition has moved the ball further.
Scenario Two
An effective judge seeks to acknowledge their biases rather than eliminate them. For starters, bias tends to look less like "I have deep seated beliefs about this topic and joined a club that shares my beliefs" and more like thinking "that's stupid" the second they hear the motion. Regardless, that bias isn't bad - often the motion really is stupid, and there's no use pretending it's not. However, a good judge will do TWO things, as illustrated in the scenarios above: ONE, they will be open to, and reward, good argumentation as to why it's not as bad as they thought, balancing that against their own acknowledged feelings on the matter. But TWO, they will consider and reward evidence that they are correct in thinking that it's stupid, being open to arguments that have more persuasive weight than "that's stupid." As long as judges adhere to the "moving the ball" analogy, debaters don't have to worry about their burden, they just have to worry about making the best arguments possible for their side.
Burden as Argumentation
The burdens taken on by each team in a round are most commonly discussed in terms of how balanced those burdens are. However, there is a great deal of merit in defining those burdens, both for yourself and your opposition, as a way to demonstrate effectiveness of arguments.
Sample Round: THW require ER doctors to report all gunshot wounds they treat to the police
In a round like this one, there are plenty of arguments to be made on both sides, both big and small. However, those arguments mean little unless they are fulfilling the burdens of your side.
In order to win this round, what must you prove?
Why ER doctors?
ER doctors are/are not appropriate conveyors of this information
Why gunshot wounds?
Gunshot wounds are/are not uniquely in need of this special treatment
Why the police?
The police are/are not entitled to and in need of this information
Note that all of these are implied in the motion - it doesn't matter what your case is, you still have to prove these.
Considering those burdens is a great way to structure your argumentation - this is a similar approach to whipping from any position in terms of ensuring that your arguments are relevant and important. It is also a very effective refutation tool - has your opposition proven their own burdens? Explain why they haven't.
Be careful when assigning burdens. It may be tempting to say that opposition must prove something that they haven't proven yet, but that doesn't mean it's a burden. E.g. It would be useful in this example if proposition could prove that this model would reduce gun violence. That doesn't mean it is their burden to prove that - they shouldn't lose just because they failed to show that, and you shouldn't say they did. (A common version of this is to claim that a motion must be 100% effective in resolving the issue it claims to address. Nothing is 100% effective, that doesn't mean it's not good.)
Novice Strategy
Playing Ball
Despite the structured nature of a round, debates are won and lost on content much more than structure. Debates are not won on technicalities. Rounds that focus too much on what the debate should be about are painful for everyone involved, and judges will not hesitate to heavily penalize anyone who is an impediment to a smooth, content-rich round. If there is disagreement about the nature of the round, it is your job as a debater to find the balance between pointing out how the other side is ruining things and playing along.
Always leans heavily towards the latter.
First Proposition
First Opposition
Second Proposition
Second Opposition
First prop teams are the ones most commonly penalized for making a messy round, because the model can make or break the whole debate
Part of avoiding that is just learning how to make good models, and until you do you might get punished for a messy round, and that's okay
But part of it is also recognizing what your responsibility is as 1P and fulfilling that. The model you present must be within the "spirit of the motion"
If you are not sure whether your model is in the spirit of the motion, consider:
What arguments did the person who set the motion expect to see in this round? Is your model conducive to those arguments being made?
What are the other teams preparing? Are they going to throw out all their notes as soon as they hear your model?
Under the right circumstances, your model can be a great place to show off your creativity - some motions specifically call for it. Just make sure you always prioritize


It is the LO's job to do the official complaining on behalf of the rest of the teams. It MUST be the LO, and it MUST be the first thing you say. Take 30 seconds to lay out in polite but firm terms exactly why you think the model is garbage. You probably have much more than 30 seconds worth of complaints, but restrain yourself. If it's that bad, the judges already know, and if they don't already think it's that bad, you are coming across as whiny. You have more important things to do.
Oppose proposition's case. DO NOT oppose the case that you thought they would present. DO NOT oppose the case by continuing to complain that it is a bad model.
Role Fulfillment
Re-frame their case in the best possible light - if you want to show you're good, you have to do more than shoot fish in a barrel - although make it implicitly clear throughout your case that you understand that you are putting a positive spin on something unexpected, rather than pretending their case is something that it's not.
Being on first opp with a bad model is a difficult balancing act - point out the problems with the case without harping on them too much, treat the case as legitimate without using the arguments you would use if it were actually legitimate - but most likely the judges recognize the difficult situation you're in. Concentrate on showing that you are adaptable.
Above all, always ask yourself whether all of this is necessary. NEVER pick a fight over a model unless you ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO.
Many a good 2P team has been sunk by a bad model not of their making.
You must defend this terrible model. You must act like it is a good idea. Moreover, you must come up with your own unique reason why it is a good idea.
If you had a plan for what your extension might be, don't expect to use it. It isn't automatically out of the question, but resist the urge to twist arguments to make your ideas fit.
Dig deep into the fundamentals of the issue - odds are that some semblance of the contentions at hand could still be in play. Broad philosophical questions are your friend.
You may not knife your front half, but you might get away with attacking them with less vicious and obvious cutlery - 'spoon' them by explicitly supporting them while implicitly distancing yourself from their case. Play down the worst parts of their model, try to mention them as little as possible, and then grasp onto any sensible thing they said and work it like it was most of their case, even if it wasn't.
You have the most time to figure out how to deal with a case shift, which means both that you have an advantage and that you need to do something impressive with your advantage
Take cues from your front half - base your extension off of the direction that they take the round in.
As with any extension, though, take it a step further - depending on how prop has mis-modeled, this may be easier or harder than expected, but the principle is the same as any other round.
You should NOT complain about the model - only first opp can challenge the model, and if you think they should have and they didn't, you have to suck it up. If first opp did challenge it, it's only wasting time for second opp to bring up complaints as well.
Matter and Manner
To some extent, every debater is judged on their matter (what they say) and manner (how they say it, aka style). Both are integral to being persuasive.
is your argumentation, your constructive and deconstructive material.
is what you do with that. It includes:
Organization and ordering of points
Signposting and clarity
Speaking confidently and comprehensibly
Role fulfillment
Humour or other appropriate uses of emotion
You can't have one without the other.
A debater with good matter but poor manner is shooting themselves in the foot, risking that the smart things they have to say won't be fully appreciated or even understood.
A debater with good manner but weak matter might sound really good, but will never fool a judge who is attentive and taking notes.
The structure of a BP round is designed to facilitate rounds that have a good breadth and depth of material, and are also reasonably fair.
A good debater is one who can be the most persuasive
within that structure
. In this sense, role fulfillment is vital.
Fulfilling your role should not be thought of as following the rules for their own sake, but as a means to making better arguments.
There are five main areas where debaters tend to trip up on role fulfillment:
Modeling Issues on First Proposition
A failure for first prop to sufficiently model is a failure to fulfill your team's role.
The purpose of this rule is to ensure that the entire round is logical and fair. It must be the job of first prop so that everyone is on the same page right from the beginning.
Rather than think of modeling as a job your team has in addition to arguing your case, make your model work for you - it must be fair, but it should also support and complement the constructive points you want to make. In addition to helping your case, modeling with your arguments in mind is also likely to be a clearer model for everyone.
The job of the extension speaker is
to cover any and all missed bases; it is to extend the debate in one direction only
Presumably this custom has been put in place to avoid confusion for both judges and debaters, and pare down the amount of clash that back half speakers need to get through.
Scattered Extensions
Whip not "Whippy" enough
New Material in the Whip
Lack of Engagement
While extension speakers with multiple extensions are often dinged on role fulfillment violations, they are really doing the most damage to themselves - time spent on superfluous extensions would have been better spent giving further depth of analysis to a single point.
Whips lose role fulfillment points probably more than anyone else, because it isn't always intuitive to STOP coming up with more reasons why you're right.
If you know how to use it, though, a whip speech can be the single most powerful tool in winning a round. It is an opportunity to fill in gaps, fit your case into the big picture, and position yourself as the voice of reason.
The elements of a proper whip speech (organization, organization, and organization) are all things that should be in any speech anyways, as they inherently make you come across as more thoughtful and organized and therefore more persuasive.
A non-whippy whip might also be a speech that pays too much attention to your front half. Never lose sight of how much you love your extension speaker.
Like any other problem with role fulfillment in whip speeches, the main issue with bringing up new material in the whip is that it's keeping you from doing the other much more important and persuasive things you should be doing (i.e. organized summary)
However, recognize that a failure to follow the rules here is also a failure to really show off the quality of your argumentation. That point that you're dying to make in your whip speech might be the ultimate super awesome winning argument of forever...or the other side might have the perfect point of clash that will destroy it and make it utterly irrelevant. Unless your opponents have the opportunity to try to take it down, a judge simply can't give it as much credit as any other argument.
It is the role of everyone to engage with their opponents' arguments throughout the round.
The LO, DLO, DPM, and extension speakers should all be directly referencing and refuting the speech previous to their own.
The government whip must integrate clash of the opp extension into the structure of their whip, as well as engage with the entirety of the opp caseline.
The opposition whip must engage with the entirety of the prop caseline throughout their speech.
POIs are NOT OPTIONAL, they are vital to fulfilling your role as an engaged participant in the round.
Chair's duties during the Round
The chair directs the round, deciding when it will start and introducing speakers. The chair may also time, although this is very frequently delegated to a panelist to ensure the chair's notes are complete.
Introducing the speakers can be as formal or casual as you like (see "official-sounding script for chairing" if you want a guide).
Official-sounding script for chairing
Good (morning/afternoon), I welcome you all to round _(round number)_ of the _(tournament name)_tournament. The resolution before the house today is _(resolution)_. Without further ado I call upon the Prime Minister _(Prime Minister's Name)_, to defend the bill the stands in his/her name in a speech not to exceed seven minutes, the first and last minute of which will be protected.
I thank the Prime Minister for his/her remarks, and now call upon the Leader of the Opposition _(LO's name)_, to open up side Opposition's case in a speech not to exceed seven minutes, the first and last minute of which will be protected.
I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his/her remarks, and now call upon the Deputy Prime Minister _(DPM's name)_, to continue side Government's case in a speech not to exceed seven minutes, the first and last minute of which will be protected.
I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his/her remarks, and now call upon the Deputy Prime Minister _(DPM's name)_, to continue side Government's case in a speech not to exceed seven minutes, the first and last minute of which will be protected.
I thank the Deputy Prime Minister for his/her remarks, and now call upon the Deputy Leader of the Opposition _(DLO's name)_, to close up the front half of this debate in a speech not to exceed seven minutes, the first and last minute of which will be protected.
I thank the Deputy Leader of the Opposition for his/her remarks, and now call upon the Member of Government _(MG's name)_, to open up the back half of this debate in a speech not to exceed seven minutes, the first and last minute of which will be protected.
I thank the Member of Government for his/her remarks, and now call upon the Member of Opposition _(MO's name)_, to continue side Opposition's case in a speech not to exceed seven minutes, the first and last minute of which will be protected.
I thank the Member of Opposition for his/her remarks, and now call upon the Government Whip _(GW's name)_, to close up side Government's case in a speech not to exceed seven minutes, the first and last minute of which will be protected.
I thank the Government Whip for his/her remarks, and now call upon the Opposition Whip _(OW's name)_, to close up side the debate in a speech not to exceed seven minutes, the first and last minute of which will be protected.
I thank the Opposition Whip and indeed all members for their remarks. I invite you to cross the floor, shake hands, and exit the room for deliberation.
It is also the job of the chair to maintain order during the round. Generally this isn't any more complicated than saying "order" if a debater speaks out of turn.
The chair's real work begins after the round, as it is their job to guide the deliberation.
Start by giving everyone a few minutes to look over their notes. Look over yours as well, and keep an eye out for when your panelists are ready to begin discussion.
When everyone is ready, ask for the preliminary rankings your panelists have come up with. Do not indicate what your opinion is on the round until your panelists have done so. Ask for the opinion of the least experienced judge first and the most experienced last, as less experienced judges are more likely to echo the opinions of others rather than state their own.
Ask whoever timed the round to time the adjudication as well, so you don't go over time by too much.
After getting everyone's rankings, the rest is dependent on the round and your own preference. Ask your panelists questions about what they thought of various aspects of the round that seem relevant, and if there is disagreement, ask them to defend their opinions. Direct the discussion towards finding consensus, or at least compromise, focusing on specific issues (e.g. "So it sounds like the biggest problem we have with first proposition is their poor model. Do we think those problems outweigh their strong engagement to the point that they should be ranked higher than second opposition?") Don't be afraid to politely but firmly cut people off if they are talking for too long or if they are interrupting another judge.
If you can't reach consensus after ten minutes or so, go to a vote. As chair, your vote is the tiebreaker as needed.
Before you do speaker points, spend some time deciding what exactly you're going to say during the RFD, and confirm that your panelists are all on the same page with your reasoning.
Speaker Points
After you've completed your ranking, you must also assign speaker points. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the team totals must reflect your rankings (no low-point wins).
Start by picking and giving a score to the strongest speaker of the round. Once you and your panelists have agreed on that, you can either choose and score the weakest speaker and then work your way to the middle, or choose the next-strongest speaker and work down to the weakest.
You are aiming to get at least some "firmer" scores as starting points (although none should be set in stone until you've finished) so that you can make adjustments around those. E.g. if you determine that the strongest speaker is on the team you ranked third, you will have to adjust her partner's score so that overall their points are less than the first and second place teams'.
Don't be afraid to use the extremities of the range when you feel it's warranted to do so. It is there for a reason, and also it is already fairly small (especially in CP) so you shouldn't feel like you have to limit yourself further.
Giving the RFD
Use the "sandwich" method for feedback: say something they did right, then say something they did wrong (constructively!) then follow it up with another bit of positive feedback. The sandwich method is mandatory when judging children, highly recommended with novices, and doesn't go wrong with pros, either.
That said, don't forget that your
constructive criticism is the most important part of the RFD
. Everyone wants to improve, and it's your job to help them to do so. You just told two people that they were the worst debaters in the room; to imply that they don't have things to improve upon is to imply that they're hopeless. It is much kinder to help them to do better in their next round, or at least not screw it up in the exact same way because you told them it was okay.
The RFD is like a debate speech in a lot of ways. You can't really lose at judging, but a good chair is one that effectively convinces their debaters that the correct ranking has been given, and thus wins the confidence and trust of the debaters and the debate community as a whole.
If you are chairing, pick up a ballot on the way to your round. Ensure everyone's names are on it and correct before the round starts.
Fill out your ballot completely during deliberation, and ensure that it gets back to the tabs room - send a panelist after deliberation, or take it yourself after the RFD.
As with any speech, organization is key to persuasiveness, so have a game plan before you start. Writing down a couple of notes during deliberation will keep you on track, and help you remember everything you want to say.
Start by telling the debaters your rankings. Nobody will be listening until they find out how they've done, and your feedback will have much more meaning if given in the context of tangible results.
Go through team by team, and touch on the relative strengths and weaknesses of each. The most important thing is to focus on what made each team distinct in its ranking - how was the first place team better than the second place team, how was the second place team better than the third place team, and so on.
Each debater gives one speech, either 5 (before and during Fall Open) or 7 (rest of the season) minutes long
How it works
Two teams of two people each - one team on government, one on opposition
The government team proposes a case of their choosing (can be anything) and the opposition must oppose it.
All teams at a tournament bring pre-prepared cases. Before the round, they have 15 minutes to choose their case and finish prepping it
The opposition does not know what the case is until the first speaker on side government presents it in the first speech
At the end of the round, the judges choose a winning and losing team, and assign speaker points based on individual performance.
Structure and Timing
Prime Minister
Leader of the Opposition
Minister of the Crown
Member of the Opposition
Prime Minister's Rebuttal
Opposition Rebuttal
* The Prime Minister may subtract one minute of their first speech and add it to their rebuttal. This is known as "Prime Minister's rebuttal extension" or "PMRE" and must be indicated before the round starts.
** The Opposition Rebuttal may be given by either member of the opposition team, and it is always directly after the second opposition speaker's speech. If the second speaker is also the one giving the rebuttal, there is no break whatsoever - they give a ten minute speech. Opp must indicate before the round starts whether they will be splitting the final speech between them in this way.
BP vs. CP
The two styles of debate commonly seen on the Canadian University circuit are different in some very important ways - having only two teams and a lack of straight motions both change the nature of debate significantly. Beyond that, though, many of the fundamentals are the same.
POIs are taken and delivered in the same way as in BP. The only difference is that rebuttals are entirely protected - no POIs may be taken during those speeches.
Argumentation, constructive and deconstructive, are valued in the same way in both styles. You are expected to come up with your own constructive points, as well as fully engage with your opponents.
Role fulfillment is less of a concern in CP, as there are fewer roles to play. Burden becomes a much bigger factor in CP, especially for side Government.
Rebuttals in CP are similar to whips in BP - rather than present further compelling material, the rebuttal speaker aims to persuade the judges that they have already won the round.
They are similarly structured, with a similar emphasis on organization. Like a whip, the most common format is to have three questions that sum up the issues discussed in the round.
Rebuttals are significantly shorter than whips - 3 or 4 minutes vs. 7 - but there is much less material to summarize because CP rounds are much shorter. There are also no POIs in rebuttals.
Where to start?
The biggest challenge of CP debate is that you can't just jump into it without any preparation. Rather than someone else telling you what to talk about, side government has to come to the table and say
"I have an idea."
The best way to approach this style, then, is primarily as a way to explore the ideas that you and your partner are most interested in talking about. The best CP rounds have good argumentation stemming from genuine interest in the topic at hand.
What can I talk about?
The forbidden three:
Truism - a proposal that is obviously true. The sky is blue, murder is bad, kittens are cute, and nobody wants to be in this round.
Tautology - a truism by definition. Creating more jobs is good for the economy, and we are measuring benefit to the economy by the unemployment rate.
Specific knowledge - a round made inaccessible by the level of expertise needed to discuss the topic. THBT constructivism is preferable to realism in determining foreign policy, THW kill the Geth in Mass Effect. (Note that if you can sufficiently explain what you're talking about in the PMC, that's allowed. Also, there is no hard line about what does or doesn't count as spec knowledge - the fuzzy rule is "what is reasonably expected to be known by a well-read university student")
Other red flags:
Status Quo - a policy that is already the law of the land. While there are certainly exceptions, it usually makes for a better round if you propose something new and let opp fall back on the reasons why things are the way they are right now.
The Status Quo is Stupid - recognize the difference between "propose something other than the status quo" and "anything that isn't status quo is fair game." There are some breathtakingly stupid laws on the books, but save attempts to change that for real legislative debates, and don't force your opp to defend them.
Go from practical to philosophical or vice versa
Look at it from another party's point of view
A case study
An argument mentioned but not expanded on by front half
Front half's arguments with SIGNIFICANTLY better analysis
What it is
Ways to do it
Although they are functionally the same, there are some natural differences between the Government rebuttal (PMR) and the Opposition rebuttal (LOR)
The LOR is right after the last constructive Opp speech, so it can't rely on clashing with whoever came before it. This speaker must repackage material that the judges just heard into something interesting and cohesive
When the PMR happens, the last time gov spoke was two speeches ago. The rebuttal is the only opportunity for gov to deal with everything the second opp speaker said, but also must summarize the big picture of the round.
Opening Gov speech: THBT the media should show the full horror of war.
Example of a detailed model. (beginning to 2:12)
Make sure everyone notices how fantastically organized you are by "signposting" everything.
At the beginning of your speech, state what you're going to do ("I'm going to start with some clash, and then I'll move on to my constructive point about X")
and then keep updating your progress ("that leads me into my third point about the economy") to make sure everyone is still following,
and then finish with a recap ("I've told you that the other side's arguments are wrong because of reasons, plus I've told you why these other reasons are better")
Your First Debate
What you need to know right now
You'll be told who your partner is, which position you're in, and the motion
Go find a quiet spot in the hall with your partner and prepare (and write down) your arguments for 15 minutes
After 15 minutes come back in and the round will start. Facing the front of the room, government teams sit on the left and opposition teams sit on the right
A judge will tell each person when to speak, and also keep time (see time signals)
Take notes during everyone else's speeches so you can respond during your speech
Have fun!
Time Signals
The timekeeper will bang once on the table at the beginning and end of protected time
Time signals are given at the minute marks and count down - e.g. four fingers means you have four minutes left
A hand signal like half a circle means you have half a minute left
The timekeeper will give you a finger countdown of your last ten seconds
Then they will bang twice to indicate your time is up
You automatically get 15 seconds of "grace" time to finish what you're saying
If you are still talking when that is up, the timekeeper and everyone else will bang until you sit down
Refutation as Extension
Pick the
most important
points (or better yet, a single point) on the other side - what have they said that seems likely to lose you the round?
Clash with it extensively - deep explanations for why premises are flawed, multiple lines of refutation
Can be a good strategy when you are having trouble finding an extension, but doesn't have to be a last resort - if there's a clear point where the other side needs to be taken out, taking them down is a very worthwhile extension
POIs Revisited
During Opponents' Speeches:
Try to stand up at least twice in each opponent's speech, even if you're not accepted each time.
When you are accepted, make a brief point - about what your opponent is saying, about what you have said, about what you are going to say
Keep it SHORT and concise - limit it to one very brief idea, don't tack on anything extra, use as few words as possible. Writing it down before you stand up is a good idea
Don't stand up during protected time
If protected time begins while you're giving a POI, wrap up as fast as possible. If you're waiting to be taken when protected time begins, sit down
After you offer a POI (whether you're taken or not) wait at least 15 seconds before standing up again
During Your Speech:
Take POIs only when you are ready to - they are important, but not as important as your speech.
It is okay to make someone wait for a few seconds if you want to take their POI but they stood up in the middle of your sentence.
If you are confused by the POI, don't worry about it, just move on rather than ask for clarification.
If you are not sure how to answer the POI, give the best answer you can and then get back to your speech. Don't spend time trying to hunt for the right answer
Don't take multiple POIs in quick succession. Take one, answer it, get through some more of your own speech, then take another one. Especially don't take two in a row from the same person.
Try not to end your speech with POIs. Give yourself time, even before protected time begins, to fully wrap up and summarize your own material.
Opening Gov speech: THW force religious adoption agencies to place children with homosexual couples.
Example of a simple model. (beginning to 1:15)
Closing Gov speech: THBT the media should show the full horror of war.

Taking more than 2 POIs is better than not filling your time. Try to answer each POI fully, then take the time to explain how your answer is related to your constructive points.
What to take notes on:
Your opponents' speeches, especially whoever is speaking right before you - it is your job to clash with their speech the most.
Your own case as you prepare it - make sure it's clear on your page what order you're putting everything in
Your front half, if you're on back half - you have to make sure your extension is distinct from their case, and that it doesn't contradict their case.
Your partner, if they're speaking before you - pay attention to the best points they make so you can highlight them in your speech, and take note of anything they've missed so you can be sure to cover it.
The model - keep it in mind throughout the round.
Themes that continually come up - this is especially helpful if you're the whip.
Fall Open
What to pack/What to wear
Dress code for Friday is casual; don't worry about changing between the car ride and debating
Saturday is more formal, business/business casual
Saturday night has a semi-formal banquet. The clothes you wore during the day are fine, but it's common for women to wear cocktail dresses or similar for the banquet.
Sunday has a similar dress code as Saturday for those who are still debating and a similar dress code as Friday for those who aren't.
You're encouraged to follow the dress code, but it's not enforced at all. Don't stress about it or anything
Rundown of Events - Friday
A detailed version of the schedule can be found here. You will also be given a copy of it when we arrive:http://community.cusid.ca/community/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=23701
Your driver will arrange with you a pickup time and place for Friday morning. Don't be late!
We'll drive to Calgary, and head straight to the university. We'll stop for lunch somewhere along the way, which you'll be responsible for.
When we get there, we'll sign in, and you and your partner will be given a team name. Remember your team name!
Experienced debaters will do a demo round of debate, and there will be a briefing where the people running the tournament make sure everyone is on the same page for how the rounds of debate will work and how you'll be judged.
Then we'll have supper, and do two rounds of debate. You'll be told what room and position you're in (this is why you need to remember your team name!). The way the rounds work should be very similar to our practice rounds
After rounds, we'll go to a social (usually a restaurant). Then we'll go to our billet's houses and sleep!
Rundown of Events - Saturday
We'll get up and get to the university to have breakfast, aiming to get there around 9.
There will be three more rounds of debate on Saturday, which will work the same way as the rounds on Friday.
There will also be training seminars between rounds put on by experienced and talented debaters for your benefit.
Lunch will happen somewhere in here as well.
After round 5 (the third round of Saturday) we will probably have some time to kill before the banquet, in which we will likely go back to our billets and get ready for the banquet, maybe do some homework, or just hang out.
Then we'll go to the banquet, where we'll have supper and the break will be announced.
When we're all funned out, we'll go back to our billets and sleep.
Rundown of Events - Sunday
We'll once again go to the university for breakfast, aiming to get there before 10:00.
There are only two rounds on Sunday - the semis and the final. If you aren't debating in them, watch and enjoy the rounds and cheer on your friends.
After the final, there will be an awards ceremony and we'll all say goodbye.
We'll grab lunch on our way out of town, and then drive back to Saskatoon. Your driver will drop you off where you live.
Rundown of Events
Pairings, Scoring, and Judging
Fall Open is a novice tournament, so you everyone you debate against will be new to university debate (some may have done debate in high school)
The first round of debate, your opponents are randomly selected. After that, though, you'll debate against teams who have done roughly as well as you so far.
You get one point for each team you beat each round: If you take first place, you get three points, second place is two points, third is one point, fourth is no points.
It's not a hard and fast rule, but in general you need to get around 10 points (average second or higher) over the five rounds in order to "break" (make it to the semi-finals).
If getting enough points to break is determined in round 5, that's called a "bubble" round.
Nobody is told how they did in round 5 in order to keep the break a surprise until the banquet. Regardless of whether you break, after the break is announced you can go talk to your judges from round 5 and ask how you did.
You will also be assigned speaker points in each round. These are individual rather than team-based, a team who is lower-ranked in a round can't have more total speaker points than a higher-ranked team.
Overall, teams are ranked on their team points (based on firsts, seconds, etc. in each round) and then speaker point totals (e.g. all teams with 9 points are ranked higher than all teams with 8 points, and then all the teams with 9 points are ranked against each other according to their speaker point totals).
Pairings, Scoring, and Judging - cont'd
You are not told your speaker points after each round. After the tournament, a spreadsheet will be posted online with the team rankings and the individual speaker points for everyone.
A summary of speaker points can be found on page 9 of this document: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B2P8_8q88ofaR1dhaDVRMGRhMHM/edit
(feel free to read through the rest of this document if you're interested, but everything in it will be covered at the judge's briefing on Friday)
How to have the best Fall Open possible
Be polite - tournaments have a code of conduct that will be outlined at the beginning, and it can basically be summarized as "don't be a jerk."
Meet new people - there are lots of interesting people from other clubs. Waiting for judges to deliberate after rounds is a great time to start up conversations, as are meals and socials!
Don't stress about how you're doing! Focus on being a better debater in round 5 than in round 1 - listen to your judges (don't interrupt, but feel free to track them down and ask questions afterward), take advantage of the seminars, and don't compare yourself to others. Debate is about having fun, and Fall Open in particular is about learning and self-improvement.
Stay in touch - we're all adults and we're not responsible for you, but it really helps logistically if we keep track of everyone throughout the weekend.
Don't forget to bring paper and pens to take notes during rounds
There are two sides to any issue. Any issue that has two sides can be a debate. The question, then, is how to narrow it down to something that will make for a
debate. Start with many possibilities with the intent of throwing many, if not most of them, away.
1. Get ideas
Inspiration for cases can come from all sorts of places - a news article (current events but also long-form journalism is great for this) or a book, a good dinner conversation or a random idle thought. Something you have a strong opinion on can work as long as you can recognize that there are legitimate reasons why you might be wrong, but the best ideas are the ones that pique your interest even though you can't immediately decide what your stance on the issue is. Alternately, some people will purposely take the stance that is in opposition to what they themselves believe. When you think of something that might work,
write it down.
2. Brainstorm arguments
For each idea you've come up with, see how many arguments you can think of for the side you want to take. Try to approach the issue from multiple angles. In the real world, it is extremely common for support or opposition to an idea to rest on one single but overwhelmingly important issue, but if that's the case with your potential case, you will likely have a hard time keeping everyone's interest expounding on that single point for two whole speeches. There has to be multiple compelling reasons to support your side.
3. Brainstorm Opposition
CP is about bringing new ideas to the table, but the ones worth bringing to the table are the ones that have yet to be settled for a reason. What do you expect the other side to say? Are the people who oppose your case in the real world well-reasoned, or does their opposition come from a place of prejudice or ignorance? As with your own side, you have to ensure that opposition has more than one argument to hang their hats on. Watch out for cases where there are more than two sides - opp should be able to figure out what stance they have to take.
4. Refine your case
If your case has gotten this far, it has potential and you can start putting more thought into it. Consider the best way to present the ideas that you want to discuss. Flesh out your model, just like you would in a BP round. Decide which arguments you want to use, develop them fully, and ensure that they complement each other. Consider how you would respond to the potential opp points you've thought of.
5. Trial by Fire
Test out your case - ideally, run it at an in-house meeting, but if you don't have a chance, talk it over with another experienced debater that you're unlikely to debate against at the tournament at which you want to use the case. Does the other team understand the case? Does the debate go in the direction you wanted it to? Are there major flaws in your case that make it overly difficult to win? Does the other side have to struggle to come up with constructive material? Take note of everything that worked and everything that didn't - then determine if your case is ready to go, if it needs to be reworked, or if it should just be scrapped.
The Crazy Ivan - all these other types of bad cases are bad because you're giving yourself too much of an advantage - that does NOT mean that putting yourself at a major disadvantage makes for a good case. You get credit for being persuasive in favour of something it's difficult to be persuasive about. You do NOT get credit for failing to be persuasive about something nobody could ever be persuasive about.
6. Final Touches
At the tournament, you have 15 minutes to prepare. Use that time to decide which case to use, discuss strategy, and psych yourself up. By this point, pretty much everything should be ready to go.

7. Do it again
A standard tournament has five rounds, and you will be on government for as many as three of them. If you think there is any chance you will be in outrounds, you'll want to have cases prepped for those as well. You are not allowed to run the same case twice at the same tournament (although you can reuse them at subsequent tournaments). In short, you need an absolute minimum of three cases ready to go, and four or five is better.
Special Cases
Time Place Sets
Opp Choice
A time place set refers to a round that is set in a different time or place than the here and now. The flexibility of CP means that your round can take place a hundred years ago, three thousand years in the future, or in a fictional hypothetical universe that doesn't exist. These can make for great rounds, but there are things you need to keep in mind for them to work:
Give full context: everyone needs to understand what the situation is that you're trying to present. You don't need to provide every possible detail, but you do need to give enough context not only so that your case makes sense, but so it can be opposed as well.
Arguments need to be objectively compelling, not just in the mindset of the time or of an individual.
All the same expectations of debate apply: Your case must be coherent, your argumentation must be compelling, your burden will not be given any different weight.
(Taken from National Championships 2014 style guide. This may not be exactly how the procedure will be at every tournament, but it gives a good outline of how they work and how to do them well.)
Teams are permitted to run opp choice cases. In an opp choice case, the government announces before the round begins that their case will be opp choice. The PM delivers a brief explanation of the case model and the available options. The opposition team has the opportunity to ask clarifying questions about the case, and then chooses which side they will debate. At no point should the PM’s explanation or the opposition’s questions delve into actual arguments; they should include only the information necessary to set up a fair debate (think of them as analogous to an info slide and points of clarification.) This process should be limited to a couple of minutes in length and can be interrupted at the chair’s discretion if it is becoming a debate.
The government team is expected to include all information necessary to allow opposition to make a decision. If the PM withholds or misleadingly presents crucial information which would have affected the opposition’s choice and which is not common knowledge, then government will be penalized. In general, the more one side of a case requires extensive/nitpicky modeling, the more unsuitable the case will be for opp choice.
Both teams are expected to remain within the confines of the debate set up by government. If the opp choice motion is “TH prefers a democratic government/a philosopher king” and opp chooses democracy, they cannot in the MO argue the benefits of an anarchist utopia. If, however, the government’s motion takes the form of “THW would do X/not do X”, the team that ends up arguing “Not do X” is free to argue any reasonable alternative to X, provided that their options are not further limited by the motion. Burden should be evaluated the same in opp choice rounds as in any other type of round. The opposition team should not be penalized for choosing “wrong” if they pick the more difficult side of a case, provided they debate it well.
On opposition in CP, you have two jobs, the basic components of any round: Present your own reasons as to why your side is right (constructive) and also explain why the other side is wrong (deconstructive).
Do both of them. Make them distinct. It seems scary to come up with constructive points in so little time, but the cool thing about debate is that you learn how to start questioning what someone is saying as soon as you hear it. Your constructive points are the things that go against gov's entire case. Your clash is the stuff that goes against their arguments that support that case.
Try to make your case as cohesive as possible - poking holes in their logic is good, but if you can lay out a unified (but multifaceted!) stance right from the start, you can refer back to that and build your constructive points from there.
Things to think about to make better cases
What is the problem? In order to show that your case is relevant, you need to show that there's something wrong with how things are now. The earlier and more clearly you can do this, the harder it is for opp to claim that the SQ is fine.
Make your case as simple as possible. This does NOT mean you can't be extremely creative and/or sophisticated in your casebuilding, but it does mean that your case should be the absolute simplest version of your creative or sophisticated case possible. Lots of debates come down to "where do we draw the line on X issue?" and the clearer you are on WHERE you're drawing the line and WHY that's where you're drawing it, the better.
Think about how to best frame the debate you want to have. Sometimes whatever story or issue that inspired the case in the first place is the best context to give; other times you can find a hypothetical or analogous context that make things simpler.
Choose important arguments. It's been previously mentioned that you should be taking a multifaceted approach, but you shouldn't be throwing in little extra things just for the sake of it. You are more likely to win with two important points than you are with three or four mediocre points.
Guide your opposition to the debate that you want to have. You can't force them to make only whatever arguments you want, but modeling in certain ways and "prebutting" certain points can make it clear to your opponents what issues you want to dig into. You should ALWAYS be guiding them AWAY from bad or trivial arguments. Get them to talk about the really controversial stuff, because that's where you will have prepared to shine.
Quick Opp Checklist
Is there a problem that Gov is trying to solve? If it's not clear how their case makes anything better, point that out.
If there is a problem, does Gov's case solve it? And if it does solve it, what are the harms that come along with solving it that might outweigh the benefits?
Who is involved? Even if some groups of people might be positively impacted, are there other, bigger or more important groups, who are negatively impacted? To the extent that the government is involved, is it within the role of the state to do this?
What are the social, political, legal, economic, ethical, moral, etc. harms of their case?
What is their strongest idea, what thing do they have to prove in order to win? Identify that and take it out.
Second Speakers
LO Dumps and MC Slimes
Broadly speaking, the role of the second speaker on either team is to "forward the debate", to add something new to the round
This does not have to be a new constructive point, although it certainly can be.
Many second speakers choose to focus on clash and rebuilding. This is fine,
as long as they are in fact saying new things.
Rebuilding does not mean repeating your partner's points, it means adding to them in a way that negates how the other team tried to take them down.
Similarly, if you are focusing on clash, your clash must include new ideas that we haven't heard before.
While the second speaker must add something to the round, there are definitely limits on how much they can do
An LO dump is when the second speaker (who is the LO if they're also giving the rebuttal) "dumps" a bunch of new constructive material into the round that their partner didn't have at all.
This is severely punished because proposition has almost no time to respond to all of it. It's common because of the difficulty of coming up with enough constructive in time for the first opp speech, but don't do it. Whatever your first opp speaker comes up with, that's the bulk of your case for the rest of the round.
An MC Slime is when the second speaker on gov re-frames or outright changes the parameters of the debate in their speech. This can either be a planned strategy to undercut opposition's first speech, or a strategic response to an unexpectedly strong opp. Either way, it's not allowed and will be heavily penalized.
Body rights are often considered to be the most important and therefore most inviolable rights that an individual has
One reason for this is that it's difficult to meaningfully exercise any other rights if you don't have control over your own body
Another reason is consequentialist: rights over anything should be controlled by whoever is most affected by what happens to that thing, and with bodies, that's pretty much always whoever's inside that body.
Are they truly inalienable? Does the government ever have the right to force medical treatment on you, compel you to give up blood samples, prohibit you from consuming a substance? It's up to you to prove or disprove; you can't just assert that body rights trump all.
According the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, our rights are never absolute - they can be limited in cases where it is in the interests of a free and democratic society to do so. In R v Oakes, the Supreme Court laid out a two-step test to determine when it is justified to limit charter rights.
Step one is that is must be related to achieving a free and democratic society
Step two is that it must be reasonably and demonstrably justified:
Can't be arbitrary, must be related to the objective in question.
Must impair rights as little as possible
Must be proportional to the benefits received by limiting the right
While the Oakes test is designed specifically for Canadian Charter rights, it is a useful metric in any argument about limiting anyone's basic rights
Many debates are about government policies. In almost all of these debates, there is a question of whether it's the government's right and responsibility to get involved: Is state interference always a hindrance, or can it ensure greater freedom? Here are some theories of how liberal democratic governments are supposed to work to help you decide:
Some rights require government action to ensure that people have them: right to police protection of person and property, right to basic education, etc. These are positive rights.
Other rights require non-interference: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from slavery, etc. These are negative rights.
Determining if a right is a positive or negative right is vital to understanding the government's role in providing it: If the right to life is a negative right, the government can't kill you. If the right to life is a positive right, the government must provide you with basic necessities.
Generally speaking (there are lots of different interpretations) the social contract is an implicit agreement between a government and its citizens, wherein the citizens give up some of their freedoms in exchange for the government protecting the rest of them.
If everybody just does whatever they want, nobody is safe from one another. It is better to give up some freedoms and submit to the rule of law, and in exchange have basic safety, protection of property, etc.
There are lots of disagreements and differing opinions about the nature of the social contract. Is it ever possible to opt out of it? What recourse can citizens take if the state is not fulfilling its obligations to them? What exactly are those obligations, on both sides, and how far can they extend?
An individual with agency or autonomy is someone who is capable of making decisions.
Such a capability involves the individual being a rational person, who is informed or has the ability to become informed, and who is not being coerced.
Broadly speaking, that means they are an adult, they do not have mental disabilities or impairments that impede their ability to think rationally, they are not under the influence of any substances that impede their ability to think rationally, and they are not being influenced by other individuals.
Individuals who meet these criteria should in theory be given the freedom to make those decisions (within limits, see the Harm Principle), consent to things like sex and medical procedures, and be held responsible for their actions.
For individuals who do not meet that criteria, their agency is held by another party - often parents, in the case of children, or, if no one else does, the state has the right to make decisions on their behalf.
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