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Julie Payette resigns as Governor General after workplace harassment report

Last Updated Jan 21, 2021 at 3:14 pm PST

Governor General Julie Payette delivers remarks during a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Statistics Canada at its headquarters in Ottawa on Friday, March 16, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Summary

Julie Payette has resigns as Governor General following a review into allegations of workplace harassment

Investigation began in July after multiple current and former staff described bullying that led to a toxic workplace

The Chief Justice of Canada will fill the role on an interim basis

OTTAWA –  Governor General Julie Payette and Secretary to the Governor General Assunta Di Lorenzo have both stepped down following a review into allegations of workplace harassment at Rideau Hall.

The Privy Council Office revealed last year that Quintet Consulting Corp. had been hired to conduct a third-party investigation into allegations in the Office of the Governor General.

 

That came after multiple current and former staff came forward to the CBC, describing bullying that led to a toxic workplace, which in some cases, brought staff to tears.

“Everyone has a right to a healthy and safe work environment, and all times and under all circumstances,” Payette writes in a statement. “It appears this was not always the case at the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General. Tensions have arisen at Rideau Hall over the past few months and for that, I am sorry.”

She notes there weren’t any formal complaints or grievances, but she takes the allegations “very seriously.” Payette goes on to say people “experience things differently” and it’s necessary to be “attentive to one another’s perceptions.”

“It is with sureness and humility, but also with pride over what was accomplished during my tenure as Governor General and in my service to the country for the past 28 years, that I have submitted my resignation,” she writes.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Payette’s resignation allows for an opportunity for new leadership to address concerns in the workplace.

The Chief Justice of Canada will fill the role on an interim basis before a replacement is recommended to Queen Elizabeth II and is announced “in due course,” he adds.

The National Police Federation says some members assigned to governor general detail also experienced harassment and “other troubling behaviour.”

“Now that independent advisors have completed their review of the workplace harassment at Rideau Hall, we hope that our Members will be able to experience a much more positive and rewarding work environment that, frankly, should have been the norm,” reads a statement from the union.

RELATED: Governor General Julie Payette accused of harassing staff in bombshell report

Payette had denied the allegations and welcomed the investigation.

“I am deeply concerned with the media reports regarding the Office of the Governor General and I am completely committed to ensuring that every employee who works at Rideau Hall enjoys a secure and healthy work environment at all times and under all circumstances,” a statement from Payette in July reads. “I take harassment and workplace issues very seriously and I am in full agreement and welcome an independent review.”

A former astronaut, Payette had been governor general since 2017 after being recommended by Trudeau.

Governor Generals typically serve five-year terms.

-with files from Hana Mae Nassar, Monika Gul, and the Canadian Press