A formal complaint was filed with the office of the governor general as a review into allegations of workplace harassment against former Governor General Julie Payette was underway, Rideau Hall has confirmed.
This directly contradicts Payette’s claim that no formal complaints were filed during her tenure as governor general.
Payette resigned from her role as governor general on Jan. 21, following reports about the “scathing” findings contained in a review into allegations of workplace harassment levied against her.
In the statement she issued announcing her resignation, she claimed that “no formal complaints or official grievances were made” during her tenure.
She added that such a complaint would have “immediately triggered a detailed investigation as prescribed by law and the collective agreements in place.”
“I still take these allegations very seriously,” she added.
However, the office of the secretary to the governor general contradicted this to Global News on Wednesday, stating that a formal complaint had in fact been received.
“The Office of the Secretary to the Governor General has received one formal complaint as a result of the Quintet workplace review,” said Rob McKinnon, a spokesperson for the office in an emailed statement to Global News.
In a subsequent phone call, McKinnon clarified that this complaint was filed concurrently with the probe into allegations of workplace harassment levied against Payette — which means it was filed while she was still serving as governor general.
McKinnon, in the statement emailed to Global News, noted that a review is conducted whenever such a complaint is received and the office will subsequently take “appropriate action as per the Directive on the Prevention and Resolution of Workplace Harassment and Violence.”
“The details of harassment complaints are confidential and contain personal information, therefore the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General will not provide any information on the specific complaint,” McKinnon said.
The Privy Council Office hired Quintet Consulting Corp. in the fall to conduct a review into allegations of workplace harassment that had been published in a CBC News article in the summer of 2020.
In the resulting report, several staff members alleged “yelling, screaming, aggressive conduct, demeaning comments and public humiliations,” had occurred at Rideau Hall.
Payette said she had encouraged employees to participate in the review.
“Not only did I welcome a review of the work climate at the OSGG, but I have repeatedly encouraged employees to participate in the review in large numbers. We all experience things differently, but we should always strive to do better, and be attentive to one another’s perceptions,” she wrote in the statement, reacting to the conclusion of the report on Jan. 21.
She then announced her intention to resign as the governor general.
“I am a strong believer in the principles of natural justice, due process and the rule of law, and that these principles apply to all equally,” she said.
“Notwithstanding, in respect for the integrity of my vice-regal office and for the good of our country and of our democratic institutions, I have come to the conclusion that a new governor general should be appointed. Canadians deserve stability in these uncertain times.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said Chief Justice of Canada Richard Wagner will fulfill the governor general’s duties as a suitable replacement is determined.