Anglican Church of Canada

CoGS chooses to conduct afternoon business in camera

A motion passed by the members of the Council of General Synod (CoGS) to conduct part of their business on the first day of their meeting in camera. This meeting of CoGS from March 10-13, marks the last CoGS meeting for the current triennium.

In camera is a Latin phrase meaning “in the chamber” and is a legal term that refers to meetings held in private, where the public and media are not present to observe or document the meeting.

Why did CoGS decide to go in camera?
Given the communication from the House of Bishops at the end of February, the Planning and Agenda Team for the Council of the General Synod suggested to members of the Council that conversation be conducted in camera for two hours of their agenda today. This move was to ensure that members could process and work through the House of Bishops communication and to speak freely and without reservation.

Is CoGS allowed to move in camera? Does that mean that CoGS is a closed meeting?
All discussions and debates at CoGS are governed by the Rules of Order and Procedure of the General Synod as outlined in the Handbook of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada.

Section IV of the Handbook, Procedure and Practice, notes: “The General Synod shall hold its sittings in public or in private at its own discretion.” Appendix F, which details the Policy on Closed Meetings in The Anglican Church of Canada, states that “A closed meeting may be held to discuss personnel issues, contract proposals, financial matters, litigation, and/or at the request of a member (subject to section 3.3).”

Has CoGS previously conducted business in camera?
While the Policy on Open Meetings states that “the exercise of the ministry of the church in meetings is conducted openly and inclusively except under clearly defined circumstances,” CoGS is no stranger to in camera sessions. Since the turn of the century, council members have met in camera numerous times to discuss specific issues:

The Policy on Closed Meetings notes that if a closed session is part of an open session, the chair shall—where appropriate—relay the messages agreed to by the members to those excluded from the meeting.