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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