In-camera meetings are often held for the three "Ls": land, labour relations, and legal issues.
In fact, under Section 165.2 of the Vancouver Charter, there is a much longer list of topics for which council must go in-camera.
So when someone in one of these in-camera meetings leaks information, it's considered a serious matter by many politicians.
I'm wondering if there will be a political witch hunt to find out who called the Globe and Mail's Gary Mason to leak the details of council's in-camera decision to approve a $100-million loan to complete the Olympic Village on time.
There are members of council who had motives for doing this, including:
a) Mayor Sam Sullivan, if he wanted to get even with Coun. Peter Ladner for snatching the NPA mayoral nomination. The leak makes Ladner, as head of the city's finance committee, look like he's covering up important financial information on the eve of an election.
b) Any of the Vision Vancouver councillors and COPE's David Cadman, because they have an interest in embarrassing Ladner.
c) Coun. B.C. Lee, a Sullivan loyalist, who is not seeking reelection. Somebody told Mason that the city's finance director, Estelle Lo, quit. Sullivan has denied that Lo has quit. Could Lo have told Lee that she quit, and Lee conveyed this information to Mason?
Today after a news conference by deputy city manager Jody Andrews, the Vancouver Sun's Jeff Lee told me that his newspaper wouldn't publish a news story based entirely on unnamed sources--which is precisely what Mason cited in his front-page Globe and Mail story.
That prompted Courier columnist Allen Garr, who was standing next to Lee, to blurt out that this rule didn't appear to apply to the Sun's provincial political columnist Vaughn Palmer, who often relies on unnamed sources.
It's unlikely that NPA councillor Kim Capri was the source of Mason's leak because she has gone on record with her vehement opposition to releasing confidential information from in-camera council meetings.
She introduced a notice of motion on January 30, 2007 calling upon the province to allow penalties to be imposed on anyone who violated the confidentiality of in-camera meetings.
Capri's notice of motion began by urging the province to amend the oath of office so that members of council know there is a duty to respect confidentiality.
The notice of motion also called upon the province to allow the banning of councillors who violate confidentiality from attending in-camera meetings.
In addition, Capri's notice called upon the province to disqualify a member of council for "deliberately breaching confidentiality".
The council minutes stated that the notice of motion was put off until the February 1, 2007 city services and budgets committee meeting.
There is no mention of this notice being heard at that meeting, according to the minutes of the city services and budget committee.
Perhaps the whole matter was discussed in-camera.