The Highlights — and Lowlights — of Julie Payette’s Tenure as Governor General

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Gov. Gen. Julie Payette gives a wave as she waits prior to delivering the throne speech in the Senate chamber in Ottawa on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Oct. 2, 2017: Julie Payette is sworn in as Canada’s fourth female Governor General, taking over from David Johnston.

Nov. 1, 2017: Payette takes on fake news and bogus science, criticizing climate change deniers, believers in creationism and even horoscopes at a convention on science policy, rankling some critics but earning plaudits from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

January 2018: Payette appoints as her top adviser Assunta Di Lorenzo, a close friend and corporate lawyer with no prior experience in protocol or the governor general’s operations.

 

October 2018: One year into her tenure, Payette has attended 195 official events compared to more than 250 for the last two governors general, raising questions around her work ethic. She also breaks with a tradition that saw previous governors general visit all provinces and territories in their first year, as she skipped Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Yukon.

July 21, 2020: CBC News reports that Payette had yelled at and publicly humiliated employees, reducing some to tears or prompting them to quit amid a toxic work environment.

July 23, 2020: The Privy Council Office says it will launch an independent review of allegations that Payette mistreated past and current employees at Rideau Hall.

Aug. 7, 2020: Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland says public office holders should be mindful of how they spend taxpayers’ money following a CBC report that hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on designs and renovations to Rideau Hall, some allegedly at Payette’s personal request, for privacy, accessibility and security reasons.

Sept. 1, 2020: The Privy Council Office announces it has hired Quintet Consulting Corp., an Ottawa-based consulting firm with a history of reviewing harassment allegations on Parliament Hill, to conduct a third-party probe into workplace culture at Rideau Hall.

Sept. 2, 2020: Trudeau comes to the defence of the embattled Payette, saying Canada has an “excellent” representative for the Queen and that now is not the time to replace the former astronaut at Rideau Hall.

Jan. 21, 2021: Payette resigns ahead of the expected release of the third-party investigation report, a move unprecedented in the history of Canadian governors general.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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