Originally Posted by esquire
^ It's actually a latin legal term, it doesn't mean camera in the photographic sense but literally "in chambers", which essentially means in private. I used to wonder the same thing... I thought in camera implied some sort of recording!
The word "camera" for the picture taking device is actually referring to the dark chamber in which the film was located. The sessions can't be recorded because that increases the risk of sensitive information being leaked.
In Camera sessions are required by law for any sensitive issues, such as legal matters and development proposals where the developer doesn't want any competitors to know what they're doing, but they must discuss the project with city council. It's a very strictly controlled process to prevent abuse. Decisions cannot actually be made In Camera, any motions related to it must be made in a public sessions, though sometimes those motions can be vague, if necessary to protect sensitive information.
I don't know how common it is in Manitoba, but my city has In Camera sessions fairly often. A few of our city's council meetings have almost entirely been held In Camera, with council only coming out of the meeting room at the very end of the meeting to vote on what they discussed and then motioning to end the meeting. I went to one meeting once where they alternated between In Camera and public sessions every few minutes for about an hour, it pissed people off (including council members who had to carry all of their computers and paperwork back and forth repeatedly) but it's necessary in some cases.