Canada’s 29th Governor General Julie Payette looks on alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the Senate chamber during her installation ceremony, in Ottawa on Monday, October 2, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Canada’s 29th Governor General Julie Payette looks on alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the Senate chamber during her installation ceremony, in Ottawa on Monday, October 2, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Payette fiasco shows need for stronger GG vetting process: LeBlanc

Until a successor is named, Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard Wagner will assume the duties

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc concedes Julie Payette’s resignation as governor general shows a need to strengthen the process for vetting vice-regal appointments.

Payette resigned Thursday, about a week after the government received the damning findings of an independent investigation into allegations that she presided over a toxic work environment at Rideau Hall.

LeBlanc says the report, commissioned by the Privy Council Office which he oversees, came to “compelling” and “stark” conclusions.

He says the debacle of Payette’s tenure shows that the vetting system for such appointments needs to be strengthened.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau chose the former astronaut to be Canada’s 29th governor general in 2017 — after disbanding a non-partisan, arm’s-length committee created by the previous Conservative government to recommend worthy nominees for vice-regal posts.

At his biweekly briefing today on the COVID-19 pandemic, Tr

udeau can expect to be pummelled with questions about his judgment and his government’s failure to check with Payette’s former employers at the Montreal Science Centre and the Canadian Olympic Committee, where she faced similar allegations of harassing and bullying subordinates.

“Obviously, this circumstance is far from ideal,” LeBlanc said in an interview shortly after Payette’s resignation.

“There always has been a process of vetting, of checks that are made when somebody is appointed to any government position. But clearly, the process can be strengthened, can be improved.”

LeBlanc said discussions have already been had with those responsible for vetting, but the prime minister hasn’t had time yet to reflect on the best way to choose Payette’s successor. The government will have more to say on that likely next week, he said.

Trudeau’s minority Liberal government could be defeated at any time and, were that to happen, it would fall to the governor general to decide whether to call an election or give Opposition Leader Erin O’Toole a chance to see if he can command the confidence of the House of Commons.

Until a successor is named, Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard Wagner will assume the duties of the governor general so there will be no constitutional vacuum. Still, LeBlanc said the government intends to move quickly to find a successor.

“We recognize also the need to be expeditious, not to have the chief justice acting in this role for a period of months. I don’t think that would be appropriate.”

The government does not intend to release the report just yet due to privacy issues and the promises of confidentiality made to all complainants, LeBlanc said. But it will eventually release a redacted version of the report in response to requests made under the Access to Information Act.

While he wouldn’t go into details, LeBlanc said the report found Rideau Hall “was obviously an unacceptable workplace.”

“Public servants who work for the government of Canada have the right to a secure, safe and healthy workplace and we are adamant … that that standard be upheld at every institution of the government of Canada.”

He said the report “painted a picture that was not consistent” with that standard.

The Senate recently agreed to pay $498,000 in compensation to nine former employees of ex-senator Don Meredith, who was accused of sexually harassing, belittling and humiliating his staff.

LeBlanc said there’s been no consideration thus far — and no mention in the report — of paying compensation to Rideau Hall employees, some dozen of whom have complained anonymously to the CBC about Payette yelling at, belittling and publicly humiliating staff, reducing some to tears and prompting some to quit.

He said such questions will be handled by senior PCO officials, who are planning to talk with all employees at Rideau Hall to plan next steps forward.

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said Friday that The Queen is being kept informed and will leave the matter in the hands of the Canadian government.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

File photo by Tom Zytaruk
Surrey 2021 tree sale begins Friday

City of Surrey says it’s selling quality trees for $20 each

The Washboard Union in the video for the song “If She Only Knew.”
WATCH: Washboard Union’s new ‘double feature’ videos filmed by Surrey director Barberis

‘Double feature’ release for the award-winning country music trio

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Drivers who ignored a speed reader board were pulled over by police in Langley on Feb. 18. (ICBC)
Ignore a speed reader board, get a ticket: some Langley drivers didn’t take the hint

One driver ticketed last week was doing close to double the posted limit

Surrey Mounties says they seized a luxury car, drugs and cash in Newton. (Photo: Surrey RCMP)
Surrey gang cops seize Alfa Romeo Stelvio, drugs and cash in Newton

This happened in the neighbourhood of 121A Street and 85A Avenue on Feb. 20

B.C. health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and health minister Adrian Dix wore pink shirts to showcase this year’s motto: “Lift each other up.” (Twitter/PinkShirtDay)
PHOTOS: B.C. celebs take a stand against bullying on Pink Shirt Day

‘We need to let young people know they are not alone and they can reach out to others for help’

Average response times for critical “purple” and “red” calls were between nine and 10 minutes Feb. 19 in Metro Vancouver, with only less critical “yellow” calls receiving an average response time of 45 minutes. The longer than usual delay was due to a combination of factors, BC Emergency Health Services said. (APBC image)
After a night of one-hour waits for ambulances, union goes public with concerns

B.C. Ambulance Service says high-priority calls were still 10 minutes or less

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. (Contributed to Kamloops This Week)
B.C. teen in turtleneck, lace-edged dress sent home from school for ‘inappropriate’ outfit

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson was told the lace on the garment made it look like a slip dress

Vancouver Canucks left wing Antoine Roussel (26) tries to get a shot past Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) during second period NHL action in Vancouver, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks cough up 3-0 lead, fall 4-3 to visiting Edmonton Oilers

Vancouver falls to 8-13-2 on the NHL season

Jessica McCallum-Miller receives her signed oath of office from city chief administrative officer Heather Avison on Nov. 5, 2018 after being elected to Terrace City Council. McCallum-Miller resigned on Feb. 22, 2021, saying she felt unsupported and unheard by council. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Terrace’s 1st Indigenous councillor resigns citing ‘systemic and internalized racism,’ sexism

McCallum-Miller said in a Facebook post she felt unheard and unsupported by council

Temporary changes to allow for wholesale pricing for the hospitality industry were implemented June 2020 and set to expire March 31.	(Pixabay photo)
Pubs, restaurants to pay wholesale prices on liquor permanently in COVID-recovery

Pre-pandemic, restaurateurs and tourism operators paid full retail price on most liquor purchases

Wade Dyck with Luna, a dog who went missing near the Chasm for 17 days following a rollover on Feb. 5. (Photo submitted).
Dog missing for 17 days through cold snap reunited with owner in northern B.C.

Family ecstatic to have the Pyrenees-Shepherd cross back home.

Most Read