Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised Gov. Gen. Julie Payette again today for her past work as a scientist and astronaut and said he’s still awaiting the results of an external review into “serious allegations” of workplace harassment at Rideau Hall.
Trudeau was asked Tuesday about his previous remarks calling Payette “excellent” and saying he has no intention “right now” to ask the Queen to replace her. Those remarks last week upset whistleblowers who reported a toxic workplace culture and verbal abuse at Rideau Hall driven by Payette and her second-in-command.
Trudeau did not repeat his suggestion today that Payette is an “excellent” Governor General. Payette is expected to read the speech from the throne on Sept. 23. Trudeau said today he has no interest in an election this fall.
“The Governor General has a long and successful role as a scientist, as an astronaut,” he told a Toronto press conference. “We have engaged a third party reviewer to follow up on these serious allegations and we will wait for the reviewer to do their work.”
One former Rideau Hall employee who reported harassment called Trudeau’s comments last week a “kick in the stomach” and said the prime minister “doesn’t realize there are people behind those allegations who have suffered.”
“We have an excellent Governor General right now and I think, on top of the COVID crisis, nobody’s looking at any constitutional crises,” Trudeau told RED FM in Vancouver last week. “We have put in place a process to review some of the working conditions at Rideau Hall, but that’s not something that we’re contemplating right now, going further than that.”
While some whistleblowers say they are now more determined then ever to speak to the consulting firm conducting the independent review, others are questioning the integrity of the process in the wake of Trudeau’s remarks. Several expressed the concern that Trudeau isn’t taking harassment seriously.
Quintet Consulting Corporation, an Ottawa firm specializing in workplace conflict management, has been hired to “act independently” in confidentially contacting and interviewing current and former Rideau Hall employees about their concerns, according to a statement by the Privy Council Office.
In July, Payette said she welcomed the review and takes “harassment and workplace issues very seriously … I am in full agreement and welcome an independent review.”