Gov.Gen Julie Payette walks in the chamber after greeting Senators before delivering the Speech from the Throne, at the Senate of Canada Building in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Gov.Gen Julie Payette walks in the chamber after greeting Senators before delivering the Speech from the Throne, at the Senate of Canada Building in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Report details yelling, screaming and aggressive conduct at Rideau Hall under Payette

Report says employees did not feel they had a place to go with their complaints

Julie Payette’s resignation as governor general was prompted by a scathing review of the work environment she presided over at Rideau Hall, described by dozens of people as hostile, toxic, or poisoned.

The government released the findings of the independent review conducted by Quintet Consulting Corp. on Wednesday evening.

The report is heavily redacted, primarily to protect participants’ privacy, and whole pages of details are blacked out or removed.

Still, the report says Quintet heard allegations of “yelling, screaming, aggressive conduct, demeaning comments and public humiliation” — behaviour that was “repeated and persistent.”

Representative descriptions of the work environment at Rideau Hall included phrases such as “the definition of a poisoned work environment,” “humiliation,” “disrespect” and “condescension,” the report says.

If the alleged conduct occurred as described, the report says “by any objective standard,” it would “lead to a toxic workplace.”

“Quintet concludes that there is a serious problem that requires PCO (Privy Council Office) immediate attention.”

Payette resigned last Thursday, one week after the government received the report from Quintet. It was commissioned by the Privy Council Office to look into CBC reports that Payette and her secretary, Assunta Di Lorenzo, had presided over a toxic workplace. Di Lorenzo also resigned.

READ MORE: Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Quintet interviewed 92 current and former employees and “knowledgeable individuals” who had worked with Rideau Hall during Payette’s tenure.

“Fewer than 10 participants … reported only positive or neutral information about the work environment,” the report says.

“However, the overwhelming majority of participants described experiences that would objectively be considered ‘concerns and allegations,’” the report says.

Specifically, 43 participants “described the general work environment as hostile, negative or other words to that effect.”

Twenty-six “specifically used the words ‘toxic’ or ‘poisoned.’” Eight “used the expressions climate/reign of fear/terror and 12 participants said they were ‘walking on eggshells.’” the report says.

As well, 20 participants “reported having witnessed harassment in their workplace or referred to harassing behaviours in the workplace.”

Seventeen participants reported that they left their jobs during Payette’s tenure because of the work environment — at least 16 in less than a year. Another 13 reported taking sick leave.

Still, Quintet says it received only one formal complaint about harassment, which was unrelated to the issue it was hired to investigate.

The review did not make any findings of fact or determine whether the reported conduct actually took place. However, the report notes that there was “considerable overlap and consistency” to the allegations made by participants.

It says employees did not feel they had a place to go with their complaints, that human resources practices at Rideau Hall were inadequate. Staff had reported problems to management but “little or no change resulted.”

Payette has admitted to no specific wrongdoing. She said in a statement last week that she was resigning for the good of the institution.

READ MORE: Payette fiasco shows need for stronger GG vetting process: LeBlanc

Joan Bryden and Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Payette

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The grant is part of the province’s $10-billion COVID-19 response. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)
Burns Lake Native Development Corporation secures provincial grant funding

To construct a new industrial mechanic shop and training space

Construction on the Beacon Theatre’s facade is expected to start by summer. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)
Burns Lake’s Beacon Theatre to get new siding and facade

The grant has also been awarded to the village of Granisle

The village will start working on the design phase for the project. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)
Burns Lake’s St. John’s Heritage Church revitalization to begin

A $275,000 provincial grant to help move the project forward

The level of service survey is expected to help formulate the budget and aid in improving the financial planning for 2021-2025. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)
Village’s level of service survey sees 157 responses

Lack of animal control, cleanliness on Radley beach among top concerns

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

(Pxhere)
B.C. research reveals how pandemic has changed attitudes towards sex, health services

CDC survey shows that 35 per cent of people were worried about being judged

Most Read