On January 21, Governor General Julie Payette announced her resignation from her position after three years in response to claims of creating a toxic work environment for staff.
Payette was a former computer engineer and astronaut with the Canadian Space Agency and was nominated by Prime Minister Trudeau to represent head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, as Governor General back in 2017.
Payette wrote an open letter to the public on January 21 to address the circumstances surrounding her resignation.
“Everyone has a right to a healthy and safe work environment, at all times and under all circumstances,” stated Payette. “It appears this was not always the case at the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General (OSGG). Tensions have arisen at Rideau Hall over the past few months and for that, I am sorry.”
Payette continued her statement by discussing the allegations of the OSGG being a hostile work environment.
“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,” read Payette’s statement.
To ensure stability within the government, Payette expressed her support of the appointment of a new officeholder and also discussed her personal reasons for leaving her position as the 29th Governor General of Canada.
“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,” stated Payette. “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.”
An independent consulting firm has been hired to investigate and review the claims of workplace harassment at Rideau Hall. Head of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, Daniel LeBlanc, will be overseeing the review.
Trudeau has faced criticism regarding the matter due to reports of alleged claims against Payette before her nomination as Governor General.
“Obviously, the vetting process that was in place was followed, but obviously we’re going to also look at ways we can strengthen and improve the vetting process for high-level appointments,” said Trudeau in a press release on January 22. “I think as a government we’ve demonstrated time and time again how important it is to create workplaces that are free and safe from harassment and in which people can do their important jobs in safety and security.”
Trudeau announced that Chief Justice Richard Wagner will act as interim Governor General and submit recommendations for the position “in due course.”