Building trust with Ottawa

Published June 1, 2002


Council of General Synod discussed residential schools behind closed doors. Afterwards, a written report was issued which said that bilateral negotiations between the federal government and Anglicans which began in December “continue at an urgent pace.”

The report outlined plans A, B and C initiatives, giving updates on each. Plan A, ecumenical negotiations, ended in January. Plan B consists of the current bilateral negotiations, and plan C is contingency planning should General Synod be forced to wind down, leaving between eight and 10 dioceses facing litigation on their own.

The report said that the negotiating team has been working “at building trust with the government negotiators” and “educating the government about how the church is structured as a decision-making and financial organization.”

Last month general secretary Jim Boyles reported that there was no progress in the talks, but the report issued after the in-camera CoGS meeting said the process “is going well, relationships are improving, lawyers are involved and helpful on both sides.”

It also said that it will take more time to resolve outstanding issues, which were listed as: estimates of General Synod’s liability for all physical and sexual abuse claims; questions around claims for loss of culture and language; and alternative dispute resolution methods of validating claims “that are credible, reliable, expeditious, culturally appropriate and safe.”

The list included determining how much the church could contribute, and over what time period, and post-agreement cooperation in resolving claims through alternative dispute resolution and cooperative healing and reconciliation.

Archbishop David Crawley of British Columbia and Yukon reported on deputy minister Jack Stagg’s (of the Office of Indian Residential Schools Resolution) visit to the house of bishops, “with the bishops responding with force in articulating the real pressures and limitations the church faces in light of the litigation and the possible elements of an agreement.”

The report also noted that the negotiating team acknowledges the church’s moral responsibility to those abused but “our response is dependent on our capacity to raise funds ? and any agreement needs to create the most positive context in which to do so.”

Negotiating team members are Archdeacon Boyles, Rev. Larry Beardy (an aboriginal representative), Edmonton lawyer Jerome Slavik, diocese of Toronto chancellor Robert Falby, Archbishop David Crawley of the diocese of Kootenay and Toronto lawyer John Page.


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