The Prime Minister is expected to announce a new process this week to select a governor general to succeed Julie Payette, who resigned exactly a month ago following a workplace review that found she was chairing a venue “toxic” and “poisoned” work.
The President of the Queen’s Privy Council, Dominic LeBlanc, said the government recognizes how important it is to choose “an exceptional Canadian” to fill this role and that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will have more to say in the coming days .
“There is no doubt that we recognize that leaving the Chief Justice as a constitutional administrator is not something that should take months and months,” said LeBlanc. Rosemary Barton Live Sunday morning.
“Hopefully next week we will have something to say about what kind of process we will be using on an expedited basis, recognizing that we need to act quickly enough to select a successor to Madame Payette.”
Trudeau said last month that the vetting process going forward would be more robust after facing new criticism over his approach to choosing Payette for the job – choosing her personal choice for the job rather than using the former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s advisory committee process to suggest suitable candidates. Opposition parties are pushing to be part of the selection process and have suggested Trudeau was swept away by the celebrity status of Payette, a former astronaut.
TBEN News reported in September that Trudeau’s office failed to check with at least two key former employers before appointing Payette, which could have revealed that she received severance pay of around $ 200,000 when ‘she resigned from the Montreal Science Center in 2016 following complaints about her treatment of employees, say several sources. She also left the Canadian Olympic Committee in 2017 after two internal inquiries into staff treatment, including verbal harassment, sources say.
Payette and her second-in-command, Assunta Di Lorenzo, resigned on January 21 after receiving a copy of a mind-boggling report in a workplace review. The Privy Council Office (PCO) sparked a third-party review to hire Quintet Consulting after a TBEN News article seven months ago featured a dozen confidential sources claiming Payette publicly denigrated, berated and humiliated the staff. Di Lorenzo has also been accused of intimidating employees.
Workplace investigators interviewed 92 people who overwhelmingly described experiences that would be “objectively viewed as concerning,” according to the report. Less than 10 participants described positive or neutral feelings about the work environment.
Quintet documented “allegations of yelling, screaming, aggressive conduct, humiliating comments and public humiliation,” prompting 13 exam participants to take sick leave and 17 to leave the office altogether.
TBEN News also reported that the report redacted allegations that Payette’s aggressive conduct included unwanted physical contact with staff members that made some feel threatened, according to multiple sources.
The purpose of the independent report was to determine the extent of the problem. The authors of the report did not attempt to draw any factual conclusions; the document is based solely on what interview participants reported.
WATCH | The Governor General’s selection process could be finalized next week, LeBlanc says:
Publication of new unredacted pages of the report
PCO released a new version of the redacted report on Saturday evening indicating that consultations with third parties are now over and that it can decompress several pages of the report. The new, unredacted pages show that Blakes – a law firm hired by Rideau Hall – caused delays in the review process when it raised concerns about “insufficient procedural fairness” and “perception of interference. Politics”.
On October 1, 2020, Blakes wrote to Quinet and the Privy Council Office to Rideau Hall should be given the opportunity to provide context to the allegations and said the institution had recently “undergone significant structural changes, including significant repercussions on the office workplace, and an increased emphasis on the performance improvement ”.
“Changes in office operations can often generate concerns and complaints, and recent and substantial changes as a result make contextual scrutiny particularly important,” the law firm wrote.
Blakes also argued that Rideau Hall has a history of staff making work environment statements prior to Payette’s tenure. In 2014, a public service employment survey found that 18% of employees responded that they had experienced harassment on the job, and a 2017 survey found that number had risen to 19%.
Maclean’s magazine reported that during Payette’s tenure, Rideau Hall ranked among the worst in the public service when it comes to harassment. The poll found that 22% of respondents working for Rideau Hall reported experiencing harassment, up from 25% in 2018 – still the third highest level of harassment reported by any federal department or agency.
The law firm submitted a table with the actions the office has taken to change the work environment.
Blakes also wrote that in a minority government he felt there was a “moderate to high risk” that the review process could “be attacked by facilitating political interference with an independent office of government.”
“The lack of procedural safeguards against allegations made and reported without proper balanced consideration would create a high risk of perceived political interference,” Blakes wrote.
Privy Council Office rejected law firm’s request for changes
PCO responded, stating that Blakes should never have contacted Quintet, which created confusion and delayed the review.
“We ask you not to start over; the letter you sent had the effect of forcing us to clarify the role of Quintet Consulting, which has now caused delays in the process, ”wrote PCO Assistant Assistant Deputy Minister Daniel Roussy.
The ministry said “there appears to be a misunderstanding” about the process. The review was meant to be a “fact-finding exercise”, not a “formal investigation”, so the review “would not raise any of the questions of procedural fairness,” Blakes pointed out in his letter.
PCO also rejected the idea that there was a “risk of political interference” and said it had hired an independent third-party reviewer to ensure that it received “non-partisan professional advice” at the time. in light of concerns raised in the media.
The department also suggested that the law firm’s comments gave the impression that Rideau Hall is independent of government, but part of government and must comply with Treasury Board policies.
“While the concerns you raised in your letter are taken seriously, we are of the opinion that the proposed procedures would not assist Quintet Consulting in conducting the review it has been mandated to do in an efficient and timely manner. “, Roussy wrote.