Trudeau calls Payette ‘excellent’ governor general, says no plans to replace her


OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has come to the defence of embattled Gov. Gen. Julie Payette, saying Canada has an “excellent” representative for the Queen and that now is not the time to replace the former astronaut.

The comments follow allegations that employees in Payette’s office at Rideau Hall have been subject to workplace harassment as well as reports of her having incurred a variety of extraordinary costs since she was named governor general in October 2017.

Asked about replacing Payette while appearing on RED FM’s The Harjinder Thind Show, Trudeau said: “We have an excellent governor general right now, and I think on top of the COVID crisis, nobody’s looking at any constitutional crises.”

The prime minister went on to note that the federal government recently hired a consulting firm to the reports of a toxic work environment at Rideau Hall, but added when it comes to replacing Payette, “that’s not something we are contemplating right now.”

The Privy Council Office revealed this week that Quintet Consulting Corp. had been hired to conduct a third-party investigation into allegations of workplace harassment in the office of the Governor General.

Quintet was once called in seven years ago to probe issues within the RCMP protective unit for then-prime minister Stephen Harper. It also investigated problems with former senator Don Meredith.

An online notice about the arrangement said Quintet will interview current and former employees at Rideau Hall so they can share their experiences, and that a final report would be presented to Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc in the fall.

Payette will also get a meeting with the consultants as they try to determine precisely what behaviours create concerns of a toxic workplace, and who was involved.

CBC reports have alleged that Payette belittled and publicly humiliated employees, reducing some to tears or prompting them to quit. Previous issues with the work environment at Rideau Hall were raised in employee reviews reported on by Maclean’s magazine.

The more recent reports prompted the Privy Council Office to launch a workplace review, which Payette herself welcomed in a statement that added she was “deeply concerned” about the allegations.