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Queen’s representative in Canada quits amid claims she bullied staff to tears

Written by on 22/01/2021

Canada’s governor general – the Queen’s representative – has resigned amid allegations she presided over a toxic work environment in which staff were bullied to tears.

Julie Payette quit just hours after senior officials received the findings of an independent inquiry into reports of verbal abuse and bullying by the 57-year-old.

It followed a report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in which dozens of anonymous staff claimed Ms Payette threw “tantrums in the office and on foreign trips, berated staff to the point of tears and called one employee’s work ‘s***'”.

Canada's Governor General Julie Payette
Image: Canada’s Governor General Julie Payette has resigned amid claims she bullied staff

One told CBC that Rideau Hall – the residence and workplace of the governor general – had become a “house of horrors” under Ms Payette’s leadership, causing long-time staff to leave in droves.

“I have come to the conclusion that a new governor general should be appointed. Canadians deserve stability in these uncertain times,” Ms Payette said in a statement announcing her departure, adding she was sorry for tensions that had arisen with staff.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – who picked her for the role in October 2017 for a five-year term – said the workplace concerns raised by staff during the review would be addressed.

He notably did not thank her – having described her last year when the probe was launched as “an excellent governor general”.

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Ms Payette was formerly the country’s chief astronaut and the first Canadian to serve on the International Space Station.

Potential candidates for governor general are supposed to be vetted by a special committee, a step Mr Trudeau chose to ignore when he recommended Ms Payette for the job.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Image: Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been criticised over Ms Payette’s initial appointment to the post

“The colossal failure of Ms Payette’s term falls squarely on his shoulders,” said Don Davies, a member of parliament for the opposition New Democratic Party.

Richard Wagner, chief justice of the Supreme Court, will temporarily take over Ms Payette’s duties until she is replaced.

The governor general – the representative of the country’s head of state, Queen Elizabeth II – has a largely ceremonial job such as swearing in governments and formally signing legislation, but can on rare occasions be asked to settle constitutional questions.

 Sky News

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