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Privy Council Office hires firm for probe into claims of ‘toxic’ Rideau Hall workplace

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The federal government has finalized details for a workplace review into Rideau Hall following repeated reports that Gov. Gen. Julie Payette created a “toxic” and “unbearable” environment for staff.

The Privy Council Office says it has hired Quintet Consulting Corporation to conduct a “thorough, independent, and impartial review to examine concerns raised by past and current employees.”

“Both current and former employees of the [Office of the Secretary to the Governor General] will be invited by the firm to voluntarily and confidentially share their perspectives,” said a statement from the Privy Council Office, which is the bureaucratic branch tasked with supporting the Prime Minister’s Office.
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Participation will be voluntary but the firm can now begin reaching out to current and former employees to ask if they want to share their experiences.

READ MORE: Governor General’s office was ‘toxic,’ ‘unbearable,’ former employee says

The Privy Council Office had announced in July that it would launch an independent review after CBC News reported accounts by employees at Rideau Hall that Payette had yelled at and publicly humiliated staff members.

Individuals who subsequently spoke with Global News expressed similar experiences.

“Right from the beginning, I was appalled at what was going on,” one former employee said.

“At first, I was just like, ‘OK, I have to give myself time to figure this out,’ or ‘Maybe things are really busy right now and they’re tense, I don’t know,’” the individual continued.

“The atmosphere, the vibe, the stress, the constant barrage, it was just … it was unbearable.”

The individual asked to remain anonymous out of fears coming forward could damage their career prospects.

Payette, a former astronaut, reportedly also quizzed staff on various aspects of the solar system.

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She was appointed in 2017 to the role as the Queen’s representative and cannot easily be removed from the position, given the role is appointed by the Queen on the advice of the prime minister.

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Payette has said she takes the allegations of inappropriate workplace behaviour seriously.

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc, who is also president of the Queen’s Privy Council, is expected to receive a copy of the final report later this fall.

It is not yet clear whether that report will be made public.

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