The highlights — and lowlights — of Julie Payette’s tenure as Governor General


OTTAWA — Oct. 2, 2017: Julie Payette is sworn in as Canada’s fourth female Governor General, taking over from David Johnston.

Nov. 1, 2017: Payette takes on fake news and bogus science, criticizing climate change deniers, believers in creationism and even horoscopes at a convention on science policy, rankling some critics but earning plaudits from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

January 2018: Payette appoints as her top adviser Assunta Di Lorenzo, a close friend and corporate lawyer with no prior experience in protocol or the governor general’s operations.

October 2018: One year into her tenure, Payette has attended 195 official events compared to more than 250 for the last two governors general, raising questions around her work ethic. She also breaks with a tradition that saw previous governors general visit all provinces and territories in their first year, as she skipped Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Yukon.

July 21, 2020: CBC News reports that Payette had yelled at and publicly humiliated employees, reducing some to tears or prompting them to quit amid a toxic work environment.

July 23, 2020: The Privy Council Office says it will launch an independent review of allegations that Payette mistreated past and current employees at Rideau Hall.

Aug. 7, 2020: Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland says public office holders should be mindful of how they spend taxpayers’ money following a CBC report that hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on designs and renovations to Rideau Hall, some allegedly at Payette’s personal request, for privacy, accessibility and security reasons.

Sept. 1, 2020: The Privy Council Office announces it has hired Quintet Consulting Corp., an Ottawa-based consulting firm with a history of reviewing harassment allegations on Parliament Hill, to conduct a third-party probe into workplace culture at Rideau Hall.

Sept. 2, 2020: Trudeau comes to the defence of the embattled Payette, saying Canada has an “excellent” representative for the Queen and that now is not the time to replace the former astronaut at Rideau Hall.

Jan. 21, 2021: Payette resigns ahead of the expected release of the third-party investigation report, a move unprecedented in the history of Canadian governors general.


Here are quick facts about Julie Payette, who resigned as governor general on Thursday:

Age: 57

Hometown: Montreal

Education: Attended primary and secondary school in Montreal and earned an international baccalaureate from the United World College of the Atlantic in Wales. Studied electrical engineering at McGill University before obtaining a master’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Toronto. Has 24 honorary degrees.

Early career: Conducted research in computer systems and speech-recognition software as an engineer with various organizations, including IBM and the University of Toronto, before being chosen by the Canadian Space Agency to become an astronaut in 1992. Payette was one of four people chosen out of more than 5,300 applicants.

Astronaut experience: Technical adviser on a robotics system that Canada contributed to the International Space Station before obtaining her commercial pilot licence and military pilot qualification, studying Russian and other training in preparation for travelling to space. CSA’s chief astronaut from 2000 to 2007. First space mission was an 11-day trip to the International Space Station to deliver supplies in 1999, when she became the first Canadian to board the ISS. The second was a two-week flight to the ISS in 2009.



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