House of Commons takes auditor general to court over access to F-35 information

The House of Commons is taking auditor general Micheal Ferguson to court in an attempt to stop him from revealing documents relating to his investigation of the F-35 purchase this spring, the Chronicle Herald reports.

After Ferguson’s highly publicized appearance before the public accounts committee—in which he disclosed that the true cost of the F-35 program was almost twice as high as the Harper government had suggested—he received an access to information request in a personal correspondence. After the auditor general had taken the necessary steps and notified five committee clerks, the lawyers representing the House of Commons tried to convince Ferguson to reject the request. When Ferguson did not, the lawyers, in an unprecedented move, sought a court injunction to gag him.

House of Commons lawyers said the documents in question were subject to parliamentary privilege and that “any disclosure of those documents without the express consent of the House of Commons would constitute a breach of that privilege,” according to the House legal filing.

The auditor general’s staff believes the secrecy rules of the House do not extend to their office and that they had not found any exemptions in the Access to Information Act in this particular case.




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House of Commons takes auditor general to court over access to F-35 information

  1. It’s been more than a year but the battle that brought about the most recent federal election is still being fought it seems. Last time the Conservatives won (I still say it was a stupendous mistake to call the election before any report had actually been filed and reported upon), time for round 2 with the court as a backdrop. The stakes are not as high but the information that, hopefully, will be made available to the public, should bring to light the contempt the Government has shown the house and by extension, the people of Canada, when it comes to this absurd sole sourced procurment contract.

  2. Isn’t the term ‘House of Commons lawyers’ a bit misleading? We all know there is one party and one man behind all this.

  3. Didn’t the conservatives run on government accountability and transparency? What government would go to court to prevent its citizens from knowing about major government expenditures? Not even the US Republicans would dare doing this. Only in Canada do governments get away with this stuff…

  4. Turns out that, according to the article in the Globe & Mail:
    The Prime Minister’s Office moved quickly Tuesday to distance itself from effort to stop the release of the e-mails, saying it doesn’t agree with what the Commons law clerk is doing.
    “We don’t believe this is covered by parliamentary privilege,” Andrew MacDougall, director of communications for the prime minister, said via Twitter.
    He said the Conservative government would support a motion to waive, or relinquish, Parliamentary privilege, on the matter.
    Officials say the PMO is anxious to ensure Canadians don’t think they’re linked in any way to this attempt to block documents that might concern Mr. Ferguson’s views on F-35s.
    So this may not be the Government’s going after all. May just be a procedural nut in the House of Commons that figured he could do this according to the rules written and went through with it.

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