Queen's representative in Canada resigns over bullying claims

An independent probe found the governor general led a toxic work environment

Queen's representative in Canada resigns over bullying claims

Canada’s Governor General Julie Payette – who represents Queen Elizabeth II in the country – has stepped down from the ceremonial post after an independent workplace inquiry found she had bullied staff members to tears and subjected them to verbal abuse.

The government launched the probe after allegations surfaced in July. A CBC report featured a number of employees who claimed Payette’s poor treatment of staff had turned Rideau Hall, the governor general’s official residence and base of operations, into a “house of horrors”. The toxic work culture purportedly forced long-serving staff members to resign.

The governor general allegedly had “tantrums in the office and on foreign trips, berated staff to the point of tears and called one employee’s work ‘s***’”.

Read more: How should HR respond to bullying?

Payette resigned hours after the inquiry released the results of the investigation. Her secretary Assunta Di Lorenzo also quit.

“I have come to the conclusion that a new governor general should be appointed. Canadians deserve stability in these uncertain times,” the governor general said in an official statement.

“Everyone has a right to a healthy and safe work environment, at all times and under all circumstances.

“It appears this was not always the case at the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General. Tensions have arisen at Rideau Hall over the past few months and for that, I am sorry.”

Payette also said she is taking her departure as an opportunity to help her family since her father’s health has “seriously worsened in the last few weeks”.

Read more: HR’s bible to handling bullying

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accepted Payette’s resignation and appointed Chief Justice of Canada Richard Wagner to the post temporarily as the prime minister considers a replacement.

“Every employee in the Government of Canada has the right to work in a safe and healthy environment, and we will always take this very seriously,” Trudeau said.

“Today’s announcement provides an opportunity for new leadership at Rideau Hall to address the workplace concerns raised by employees during the review.”

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