Canada ex-governor general created 'poisoned' work environment: reports

By: AFP      Published: 04:56 PM, 28 Jan, 2021
Canada ex-governor general created 'poisoned' work environment: reports

A damning report on workplace harassment claims against ex-governor general Julie Payette, Queen Elizabeth II's representative in Canada, describes her as "hostile," "poisoned," and "toxic," news outlets reported Wednesday. 

Payette, a 57-year-old former astronaut, resigned from the post last Thursday after holding the largely ceremonial position since 2017.

Canadian media, including the country's biggest outlets, obtained a redacted version of the report on Wednesday evening under an access to information law. The document was ordered by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government in July.

"Yelling, screaming, aggressive conduct, demeaning comments and public humiliations," are among the behaviors it lists.

The testimony comes from 92 employees, ex-employees and other individuals familiar with the work environment at Rideau Hall, the official residence of the governor general, including some 20 people who reported acts of harassment.

Nearly half the feedback collected in the report by independent consulting firm Quintet referenced a "hostile or negative" environment, or both.

More than a quarter of respondents spoke of a "toxic" or "poisoned" atmosphere, according to the 132-page report summarized by broadcasters CBC and CTV as well as the Globe and Mail daily.

The report concluded that there was a serious problem requiring the immediate attention of Canada's Privy Council Office, which supports the prime minister and cabinet.

According to the report, employees complained that they did not have independent channels through which to raise concerns about the work environment at Rideau Hall.

The government ordered the independent investigation in July after the CBC published anonymous testimony about a toxic climate, including claims of harassment and verbal abuse.

Payette's longtime friend Assunta Di Lorenzo, whom she had appointed controversially as secretary to the governor general and who was also accused of mistreating staff, quit her post.