Julie Payette is as the first governor general to have to resign in scandal. She and her secretary, Assunta di Lorenzo, are resigning after an independent workplace review of Rideau Hall found that the pair presided over a toxic work environment. Sources say that its conclusions were damning.
President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada Dominic LeBlanc told CBC’s Vassy Kapelos the federal government received the final report late last week, which he said offered some “disturbing” and “worrisome” conclusions.
Payette indicated her intention to resign during a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday night, where they discussed the report’s contents, according to LeBlanc.
“Everyone has a right to a healthy and safe work environment, at all times and under all circumstances. 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,” Payette said in a statement released on Thursday.
“While no formal complaints or official grievances were made during my tenure, which would have immediately triggered a detailed investigation as prescribed by law and the collective agreements in place, I still take these allegations very seriously. Not only did I welcome a review of the work climate at the OSGG, but I have repeatedly encouraged employees to participate in the review in large numbers. We all experience things differently, but we should always strive to do better, and be attentive to one another’s perceptions.”
Alluding to personal reasons also influencing her resignation, Payette said: “From a personal side, this decision comes at an opportune time, as my father’s health has seriously worsened in the last few weeks and my family needs my help.”
“So 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. I have informed the Prime Minister of Canada of my decision. I wish him the best as he seeks an individual to recommend to Her Majesty as the next Governor General of Canada and I wish the best to my successor. I will remain at his or her disposal.”
On Thursday, Prime Minister Trudeau also released a statement on the resignation of the Governor General.
“I have received today the resignation of the Governor General of Canada, the Right Honourable Julie Payette. Ms. Payette became Governor General on October 2, 2017, and has fulfilled her duties to uphold parliamentary democracy and serve the public.
“Every employee in the Government of Canada has the right to work in a safe and healthy environment, and we will always take this very seriously. Today’s announcement provides an opportunity for new leadership at Rideau Hall to address the workplace concerns raised by employees during the review.
“On an interim basis, the Chief Justice of Canada will be fulfilling the duties of the Governor General. A recommendation on a replacement will be provided to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and announced in due course,” Trudeau said.