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Truly a sad state of affairs. 

Firm hired to conduct 'thorough' review of Governor General workplace allegations

Published Tuesday, September 1, 2020 9:33AM EDT

TORONTO -- The Privy Council Office says it has engaged a third party consulting firm to conduct a "thorough, independent and impartial review" into harassment allegations within the office of Gov. Gen. Julie Payette.

The Privy Council Office released more details about the probe on Tuesday, announcing that Quintet Consulting Corporation will undertake the review.

The PCO said in a statement that the consulting firm "has been mandated to act independently" to draft a report about the nature of the concerns within Payette's office and detail next steps.

Payette's office has been under fire in recent weeks after anonymous staffers at Rideau Hall told CBC News that Payette created a toxic atmosphere and yelled at employees, sometimes reducing them to tears and prompting them to quit.

The Privy Council Office announced on July 23, that it would conduct a review into the work environment at Rideau Hall following the harassment allegations.

The Terms of Reference for the review have since been finalized.

Both current and former employees of the office of the Governor General will be invited to "voluntarily and confidentially share their perspectives" with Quintet, according to the PCO.

President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc has also been asked to oversee the review.

LeBlanc will receive Quintet’s final report, which is expected later this fall.

Payette previously said she is "deeply concerned" by the allegations levied against her office and welcomes the probe.

"I am completely committed to ensuring that every employee who works at Rideau Hall enjoys a secure and healthy work environment at all times and under all circumstances," she said in a statement. "I take harassment and workplace issues very seriously and I am in full agreement and welcome an independent review."

Payette took over as Governor General with a five-year term beginning in October 2017, but her tenure at the post has been marred by conflicts and complaints.

A 2019 survey of Rideau Hall staff showed employees had expressed concerns about their work environment, including 22 per cent who felt they had been "the victim of harassment on the job" in the past year, and of those respondents, 74 per cent said they experienced harassment "by someone in authority over them."

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  • 2 weeks later...

There is a permanent solution available to us that would ensure we would no longer have any concerns with our present and future GGs. We could follow the lead of other countries.

Barbados to remove Queen Elizabeth as head of state

2 hours ago
Barbados has announced its intention to remove Queen Elizabeth as its head of state and become a republic.
"The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind," the Caribbean island nation's government said.
It aims to complete the process in time for the 55th anniversary of independence from Britain, in November 2021.
A speech written by Prime Minister Mia Mottley said Barbadians wanted a Barbadian head of state.
"This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving," the speech read.
Buckingham Palace said that it was a matter for the government and people of Barbados.
A source at Buckingham Palace said that the idea "was not out of the blue" and "has been mooted and publicly talked about many times", BBC royal correspondent Jonny Dymond said.
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The difference between good government and bad government(Harper and trudeau) can be seen by reading this article.

We all know why Payette was chosen. If it were John Payette with exactly the same professional background, he wouldn't have been chosen.

Apparently, there is huge worry among experts on how the decision making would be done in a constitutional crisis. So yeah, it actually is really important.

You get what you vote for.

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Should Canada follow their lead?

  • Calgary Herald
  • 17 Sep 2020
img?regionKey=mEY5VBIJTmwXXnNRZY4PvQ%3d%3dANWAR HUSSEIN / GETTY IMAGES Queen Elizabeth is greeted during a walkabout in 1977 in Barbados, which has announced plans to go republican.

Barbados intends to replace the Queen as head of state within a year, which would make it the first country to do so in nearly 30 years. The British government and Buckingham Palace both said simply that this is a matter for the Barbadian people.

“The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind,” said Sandra Mason, Barbados's governor general, in a speech on behalf of Prime Minister Mia Mottley, whose Labour Party commands a majority that could speed the process.

“Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state. This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving.”

Now seems as promising a time as ever for anti-monarchists to strike anywhere in the Commonwealth. The Queen may live long, but not forever, so soon enough the pomp of a monarch's funeral will pass and life in the Commonwealth will go on.

Money will have Charles's face on it, from ear to ear, and all the functions of state governance in Canada will be carried out in his name. A new King of Canada would soon come for a visit.

“There will be a rude awakening,” said Tom Freda, co-founder of Citizens for a Canadian Republic, which advocates replacing the Queen as head of state with a democratically chosen Canadian citizen.

With Harry off in California, William unlikely to get the tap for another decade at least, and Buckingham Palace vacant for the foreseeable future, the stage is set for another episode of Canadian republicanism, which has a rich tradition of failed legal efforts.

The personality of Queen Elizabeth seems to be “the one thing that holds the monarchy together in Canada,” Freda said.

This is not institutional support, he said. It is affection for Elizabeth as the bestloved monarch perhaps ever, at least since Victoria, and longer serving, having advised prime ministers since Winston Churchill in 1952, and signed Canada's Constitution into force in 1982.

Barbados fits this idea, by taking action in the monarch's 94th year, but the project is not a foregone conclusion, even if it does not go to a referendum. Barbados has made similar vows before, as have other Caribbean countries including Jamaica, where a referendum is a common campaign pledge that has never actually happened. Guyana made the replacement official in 1970, Trinidad and Tobago in 1976, and Dominica in 1978.

The last country of the former empire to remove the Queen as head of state was Mauritius in 1992. Australia voted against becoming a republic in 1999.

In Canada, efforts have occupied jurists more than politicians. One such legal challenge ended in 2014 with an appeal ruling that forcing new Canadian citizens to swear an oath to the Queen “does not violate the appellants' right to freedom of religion and freedom of conscience because it is secular; it is not an oath to the Queen as an individual but to our form of government of which the Queen is a symbol.”

That same year, then-attorney general Peter Mackay actually put it in writing that Queen Elizabeth “cannot unilaterally deploy the Canadian Forces,” to settle a dispute with Aralt Mac Giolla Chainnigh, an Irish-canadian military man who objected to toasting the Queen at formal dinners. He lost.

The Queen's death might make republicanism more popular, but it will not make the project easier, Freda said. The British media coverage has cast the Barbados decision in light of domestic race relations issues, including the Windrush scandal of discrimination against British subjects of Caribbean ancestry.

Canadians are similarly taking greater notice of historical injustices committed in the name of the Crown, particularly against Indigenous people. But Freda does not see that as much of a factor. He would like to think so, because it would theoretically help the cause, but Canadians have a way of seeing the present monarch apart from the monarchy.

Replacing the Queen with a domestic alternative — “a truly Canadian head of state,” as it was once provocatively put by the former Liberal foreign minister John Manley — is not the same as the effort to decolonize, to undo or repair the crimes of colonial history.

“If Canada was being set up today, no one would pick monarchy as a system for head of state. We just fell into it,” Freda said.

Even the Queen's present popularity is a republican argument, Freda argues. “If you enter popularity contests, then you're asserting a republican principle,” he said, that the people's preference is important.

The thing is, he said, even those who find a foreign-based monarchy the most ridiculous or objectionable tend not to think about it very much.


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PMO failed to check with key former employers before Payette's appointment as Governor General: sources
 Ashley Burke, Kristen Everson 16 hrs ago

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his officials never conducted checks with Julie Payette's former employers at the Montreal Science Centre and the Canadian Olympic Committee that might have raised red flags about her behaviour with co-workers and subordinates before her appointment as Governor General, sources tell CBC News.

Multiple sources have told CBC News they were stunned by Trudeau's decision to appoint Payette in 2017. They have questioned the prime minister's judgment.

"A number of us were blown away when she got appointed," said a former board member at the Canada Lands Company (CLC), the self-financing Crown corporation that owns and operates the Montreal Science Centre. Payette was vice president of CLC and chief operating officer of the Montreal Science Centre from 2013 to 2016.

"This is a Crown corporation owned by the government," said the former board member. "You would have thought they'd call to check out her credentials."

Payette and her Rideau Hall office are now at the centre of an unprecedented third-party investigation launched by the Privy Council Office. In July, a CBC News report quoted a dozen confidential public servants and former employees who claim the Governor General belittled, berated and publicly humiliated Rideau Hall staff.

Payette received severance in 2016: sources
Payette was given severance of roughly $200,000 when she resigned from the Montreal Science Centre in 2016 following complaints about her treatment of employees, say multiple sources. In 2017, Payette left the Canadian Olympic Committee after two internal investigations into her treatment of staff, sources said.

CBC News spoke to 15 confidential sources who worked with Payette, including current and former employees and board members at the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Montreal Science Centre, the Canada Lands Company and the Canadian Space Agency. They spoke on the condition they not be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly, could lose their jobs, still work in the industry or, in some cases, continue to interact with Rideau Hall.

The Prime Minister's Office would not say if it was aware of the complaints made against Payette at these institutions.

"The Governor General is recommended on a broad range of factors and done with the appropriate due diligence," said press secretary Alex Wellstead in a statement to CBC News. "Any questions about previous roles should be directed to the organizations in question."

A spokesperson for the Governor General's office issued a statement to CBC News calling Payette an "outstanding Canadian" and "a trailblazer for women" and pushed back against the reports of workplace harassment.

"Over the course of her career, no formal complaint has ever been filed against her, nor has she ever resigned from a board of director position, including at the Canadian Olympic Committee, where she finished her term," said the statement from Payette's press secretary, Ashlee Smith.

"She has served on more than a dozen boards over the years in an exemplary manner," the statement said.

Payette accused of berating staffer at 2016 Olympics
In April of 2016 — the year Payette left the Montreal Science Centre — she was appointed to the board of the Canadian Olympic Committee. That same year, two employees of the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) complained to the committee about Payette's treatment of staff, triggering internal HR investigations.

The COC board spoke to Payette about the complaints, said the sources. Payette did not apply for an extended term.

In one case, Payette was accused of berating a young female employee to the point of tears while at the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio in August, according to several current and former Canadian Olympic Committee staffers.

Payette is alleged to have screamed at the employee over having to wait with her son for a Canadian Olympic Committee vehicle to pick them up from an event they attended privately in Copacabana, the sources claimed. Payette complained it wasn't healthy for them to be standing on the street breathing in pollution for that long and called the situation "ridiculous," the sources claim.

In the second instance of a COC employee filing a complaint against Payette, say sources, Payette was accused in November of 2016 of overstepping her authority by threatening to fire an employee during a meeting for not having ready answers to her questions.

"Staff couldn't do anything to make her happy," said one former COC employee. "She would erupt out of nowhere. What she chalked up to appropriate behaviour would under every circumstance be inappropriate behaviour. We were all just supposed to sit there and take it."

When contacted about this story, Payette's press secretary suggested CBC News speak to John Furlong to provide balance to the unnamed accounts of Payette's conduct. Furlong worked with Payette on the board of Own the Podium, a not-for-profit organization that supports Canadian Olympic athletes, for several years before she joined the COC.

Furlong, the former chair of the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee (VANOC), said he witnessed no incidents of harassment involving Payette during that time and called her "an exemplary board member.

"She had a perfect attendance record. She did her homework and read the material, which was extensive," he told CBC News.

"She was very engaged, collaborative [and] involved. I would give her a very high mark for her performance there."

(Furlong is himself no stranger to controversy. He was accused in 2012 of verbal and physical abuse of First Nations students in northern B.C. decades ago, allegations Furlong has consistently and strenuously denied. The RCMP investigated and concluded there were no grounds for charges, and civil claims were either dropped or dismissed.)

In her media statement, Smith pointed out that, "shortly before her term was completed, [Payette] was appointed as a member of the International Olympic Committee Women in Sport Commission on which she still serves."

Payette became a COC board member in April 2016 after the former president Marcel Aubut resigned over a sexual harassment scandal in 2015. In the wake of the controversy, the organization vowed to make sweeping changes to prevent similar issues in the future.

In a statement issued to CBC News, the Canadian Olympic Committee said it "is not appropriate for us to make public comment on any former or current Board member on such matters and leave this to the mandate of the Office of the Privy Council." Instead, the organization pointed CBC News to its conduct policy, which states that harassment is not tolerated and says that even "one incident could be enough to constitute harassment."

"Harassment includes bullying, and can take many forms but often involves conduct, comment or display that is insulting, intimidating, humiliating, hurtful, demeaning, belittling, malicious, degrading, or otherwise causes offence, discomfort, or personal humiliation or embarrassment to a person or group of persons," reads the policy.

A former Canada Lands employee with direct knowledge of the matter said the Crown corporation could have warned the Prime Minister's Office had it reached out before Payette's appointment.

"The red flags were her relationship with her employees, her controlling attitude and her resistance to administrative authority," said a former board member.

The board of directors at Canada Lands met Payette at an annual gala in 2013. Bowled over by her charisma and celebrity status in Quebec, they rushed to hire Payette without the normal due diligence or evaluation process, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter.

The board members hoped Payette would woo donors and boost fundraising. But it quickly became clear Payette lacked experience in managing staff and was learning on the job, multiple sources claim.

A 'tense' and 'painful' time
The National Post documented Payette's tumultuous time at the science museum and how her behaviour foreshadowed issues later reported at Rideau Hall. Radio Canada also reported on claims that Payette had created a toxic climate there by subjecting employees to unjustified criticism.

CBC News spoke to several people who worked with Payette at the Montreal Science Centre, including former employees who claim they were victims of verbal harassment. One former staff member described it as a "tense" and "painful time" and said staff members never knew who would be the target of Payette's criticisms at a meeting.

"HR was aware," said a different source with direct knowledge. "Everyone was aware. HR were witnessing it because they were in the same meetings. Some colleagues complained directly to HR."

Senior management at Canada Lands also saw Payette sulk and turn teary-eyed in meetings if she didn't get her way, said a source. In one case, said a source, Payette pushed back against a plan for Canada Lands to commission a routine survey of employees to improve the working environment at its properties.

"Julie fought it tooth and nail," said one former Canada Lands employee. "She strongly resisted wanting it done at the Montreal Science Centre."

Canada Lands went ahead with the survey. Payette was still so upset with the project that, when an HR consultant arrived to give a presentation about the survey, Payette pointedly ignored them, according to two sources who say they witnessed the interaction first-hand.

The Canada Lands Company quietly awarded Payette a year's salary as severance when she resigned in Oct. 2016, said multiple former employees and former board members. Sources said she was paid the severance so that the federal Crown corporations managing the science museum — Canada Lands and the Old Port of Montreal — could protect their reputations.

Canada Lands said that for privacy reasons, and out of respect for current and past employees, it "will not discuss personnel matters." It did say it has a "comprehensive" policy on respect in the workplace that applies to all staff. 

"Ms. Payette's departure was her decision after serving three years at the Montreal Science Centre," said Canada Lands' VP of corporate communications Marcelo Gomez-Wiuckstern in a statement to CBC News. "She contributed greatly to the Science Centre's success and we appreciated her ideas and vision."

'I don't want to be in a room with her'
Complaints about Payette's workplace behaviour date all the way back to her years at the Canadian Space Agency in the 1990s and early 2000s. Some who worked with her there say they have no wish to interact with her again.

"I don't want to be in a room with her, unless she wanted to apologize," said one former Canadian Space Agency employee. "She would comment on people's work in a very negative and demeaning way. There is Julie Payette's way or it's not good."

Sources report Payette would lash out at staff by calling them at home during off-hours to denigrate their work.

"For me leadership is about helping others grow. She's the other way around," said one former employee. "She didn't want to help others shine."

Others describe a more professional, collegial workplace relationship with Payette. 

Fabienne Lebranchu worked at the agency on Payette's second mission to space, booking her travel tickets and expense claims. She said that when she travelled to Houston for work, Payette would invite her to her house for a glass of wine so that she wouldn't be stuck alone in a hotel room.

Lebranchu said Payette has a type-A personality, like other astronauts, and had a stressful job at the Canadian Space Agency, but she never saw her treat her colleagues poorly.

"She was very nice," said Lebranchu, adding she'd like to work with Payette again at Rideau Hall. "She appreciated the work we did for her, she would thank us and always asked us if she needed anything else for her expense claims."

Maclean's magazine has reported that, for two years in a row, Payette's office at Rideau Hall ranked among the worst in the public service for harassment complaints. An annual government survey conducted last year showed 22 per cent of respondents working for Rideau Hall claimed to have experienced harassment. Of those employees, 74 per cent attributed the harassment to individuals with authority over them.

Trudeau defended vetting process
Trudeau is now facing renewed criticism over his approach to choosing Payette for the job — selecting his personal pick for the role rather than using former prime minister Stephen Harper's advisory committee process to suggest suitable candidates.

For months, Trudeau skirted the controversy over Payette's relationship with Rideau Hall staff. He came to her defence early this month, calling Payette an "excellent" Governor General and saying he had no intention of replacing her right now. That comment upset the whistleblowers who claimed harassment — one said Trudeau's words felt like a "kick to the stomach."

In 2017, the online political news outlet iPolitics reported that police had charged Payette with second-degree assault in 2012 while she was living in Maryland; the charge was later dismissed and expunged from her record and Payette herself called the charge "unfounded".

The Toronto Star also reported that Payette had struck and killed a pedestrian while driving in Maryland in 2011. Police subsequently found Payette was not at fault.

Trudeau defended his vetting process In 2017 and said nothing in Payette's past disqualified her from the job of Queen's representative.

"I assure everyone that there are no issues that arose in the course of that vetting process that would be any reason to expect Mme. Payette to be anything other than the extraordinary governor general that she will be," he said in July 2017.

Barbara Messamore, a history professor at the University of the Fraser Valley and fellow of the Institute for the Study of the Crown in Canada at Massey College, said the advisory board is a recent innovation and Trudeau didn't abandon a time-honoured tradition. She said there's still a strong argument for using it now, in light of the recent controversy.

And if the government didn't ask the Montreal Science Museum and Canadian Olympic Committee for references, she said, it "suggests a failure of the vetting process."

"The process that was used was evidently not entirely adequate," said Messamore. "It didn't uncover some things that ought to have been known. If they did indeed know those things, I would have described them as a deal-breaker."


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