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

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

The Majagaleehl Gali Aks Elementary School in Hazelton is being shut down for a week by the Gitanmaax Band Council following a confirmation of a COVID-19 exposure there on Feb. 26. (Black Press Media File Photo)
COVID-19 exposure notice shuts down Hazelton school

Closure to last for one week and school is to be sanitized

Dave Livesey, right, has been elected as Telkwa councillor defeating Klaus Kraft (middle) and Erik Jacobsen. (Interior News composite photo)
Dave Livesey elected to Telkwa council

Livesey received 60 votes to Klaus Kraft’s 51 and Erik Jacobsen’s 34 in preliminary results

Smithers Local Health Area reported just one new case of COVID-19 from Feb. 14-20. (BC CDC graphic)
Local weekly COVID infections drop to one

The Smithers Local Health Area (Houston to Witset) reported a single case between Feb. 14 and20

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

Most Read