Jagmeet Singh, NDP Leader, is requesting the Trudeau government to investigate allegations of aggressive behavior and harassment in the office of Gov. Gen. Julie Payette. One staffer at Rideau Hall claimed that sometimes they were reduced to tears and prompted to quit as Payette had created a toxic atmosphere by yelling at employees.
Singh indicated on Wednesday from the House of Commons that the stories shared by the staffs at Rideau Hall are so worrying that the prime minister has a part to play. Trudeau did not respond directly to the allegations when pressed on the reports in the House of Commons. He stated that each Canadian has the right to a safe, secure workspace, free from harassment, and that is extremely important. Trudeau added that that was the reason why they forwarde on June 22 with announcements on strengthening the oversight in federally regulated agencies, environments, and the public service.
Melanie Joly, Economic Development Minister, stated that he was surprised to hear of the allegations, but echoed Trudeau’s comments about the workplace. Joly used to oversee relations with Rideau Hall in her former role as minister of Canadian Heritage. She indicated that Rideau Hall should address the issue, and her understanding is that they went out with a statement that day. Rideau Hall said in a statement stated that it “deeply regrets this reporting,” which is in “stark contrast to the reality” of working at Payette’s offices, and it has not received any formal complaints.
In the meantime, Adam Vaughan, a Liberal MP representing parts of downtown Toronto, said that the accusations are serious, and they need a serious response and a serious investigation. Payette tenure at the post has been marred by conflicts and complaints after taking over as Governor-General with a five-year term beginning in October 2017. A 2019 survey of Rideau Hall staff shows that in the past year, 22 percent indicated that they had been “the victims of harassment on the job,” and of those respondents, 74 percent said they experienced harassment “by someone in authority over them.”
Payette said at times she doesn’t pretend to be perfect as she started the job and learned though, she had missteps that she corrected. It is still not clear if Trudeau will intervene when it comes to an investigation into the matter. Philippe Lagasse stated that an investigation into Payette and Rideau Hall is complicated as she is one of the only workers in Canada who cannot be fired. Lagasse is an associate professor of International Affairs at Carleton University
Lagasse also believes that trying to resolve the issue behind closed doors to avoid damage to the institution is in the best interest of the government.
He added that each person’s best option right now is to try to deal with the issue decisively but discreetly. He concluded that anybody doesn’t want to be in a situation where the prime minister feels that he either needs to pressure the Governor-General to resign or ultimately advise the Queen to dismiss her nor to turn this into a confrontation between the prime minister and the Governor-General.