Canada Governor General Julie Payette quits over workplace harassment
Governor General Julie Payette, Queen Elizabeth II’s representative in Canada, resigned Thursday ahead of the release of a reportedly scathing report on workplace harassment claims levelled against her office.
The independent review had been ordered by the government last July when allegations of a “toxic” climate at Rideau Hall — the official residence of the governor-general — first surfaced. Canadian media, citing unnamed sources briefed on its contents, said the review’s conclusions were damning.
“In respect for the integrity of my vice regal office and for the good of our country and of our democratic institutions, I have come to the conclusion that a new governor general should be appointed,” Payette said in a statement.
And so, she added, “I have submitted my resignation… (and) I have informed the prime minister of Canada of my decision.”
Current and former staff at the governor general’s office had alleged that Payette bullied, yelled at and publicly humiliated staff, some of whom left her office in tears. Payette responded at the time that she took the allegations very seriously. The resignation of a governor general, especially under such circumstances, is unprecedented in Canada’s history.
Payette also faced public criticisms for insisting on expensive renovations to Rideau Hall, and then refusing to move in. Her longtime friend Assunta Di Lorenzo, whom Payette had appointed controversially as secretary to the governor general and was also accused of mistreating staff, quit too.
“It appears this was not always the case… and for that, I am sorry,” Payette said. Payette, a 57-year-old former astronaut, had been nominated to the largely ceremonial post by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2017 to represent Queen Elizabeth II in the Commonwealth country.