Governor General Julie Payette won’t move into Rideau Hall ‘until further notice’

Governor General Julie Payette stands next to a shelf featuring memorabilia from her career as an astronaut, in her office at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on December 11, 2018.The governor general will not be moving in to her official residence this summer, and there is no date for when that might happen.Julie Payette, who is currently staying at Rideau Gate, will not move in to Rideau Hall and that decision will stand "until further notice.". THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

The Governor General will not move into her official residence in Ottawa this summer and there is no date for when she might.

Julie Payette has not lived in Rideau Hall since she took office in back in October 2017, because the mansion has been undergoing extensive renovations. Mostly, Payette has been living at Rideau Gate, a historic property very near Rideau Hall normally used as a guest house for visiting dignitaries.

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And her staff say that’s where she’s staying “until further notice.”

Payette had previously said she would be moving into Rideau Hall this summer. She will instead use the Citadelle, the Governor General’s other residence in a fortress in Quebec City, as her home base for much of the summer as she conducts her duties.

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Valerie Gervais, Payette’s press secretary, said there are several reasons why Payette is not yet living in Rideau Hall, one of them being privacy.

She said ongoing construction and maintenance work in the building, as well as the design of the mansion itself — not built for the smartphone age — contributed to a lack of privacy.

In a document envisioning the role of Rideau Hall for the next 50 years, produced by the National Capital Commission and staff of the Governor General in 2017, the residence was described as a “less-than-private space for the vice-regal family.”

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The document, signed by former governor general David Johnston, also cites as an objective the redesign of the private quarters to “create a sense of privacy and intimacy” while allowing flexibility for “mandate-by-mandate preferences” — that is, the different tastes of different holders of the office.

Gervais pushed back against the idea Payette does not want to move into Rideau Hall: “She’s here, she’s working, she’s staying where she was told to stay and she’s raising her family there.”

Rideau Hall’s currently planned renovations are mostly related to improving accessibility. In April 2018, the National Capital Commission released a report saying the building’s condition was “good” whereas Rideau Gate’s condition was “fair.”

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For context, the commission described the state of 24 Sussex Drive, the prime minister’s official residence that has not been lived in since the 2015 election, as “critical.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lives instead in Rideau Cottage, another residence on Rideau Hall’s grounds.

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