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

Rose Sawka, 91, reaches out to her son Terry Sawka, on a daily visit through the window, from inside Acropolis Manor where a COVID-19 outbreak took hold on Jan 19. Rose was vaccinated for the virus on Jan. 20 and as of Feb. 25 has remained virus free. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
No increases of COVID-19 at Acropolis -16 residents now recovered

Vaccinations have helped to stabilize Prince Rupert long-term care facility virus numbers

A health care worker prepares to test a Coastal GasLink field worker for COVID-19. (Coastal GasLink photo)
Coastal GasLink begins COVID screening of pipeline workers

Construction is once again ramping up following Northern Health approval of COVID management plan

BC Bus North was implemented under the NDP provincial government in 2018 when Greyhound cancelled services across northern BC. The transportation funding expires at the end of March 2021. (Photo: B.C. Transit)
BC Liberals call for immediate govt. renewal of BC Bus North funding

BC Liberals spent years ignoring need for better transportation in the North - Jennifer Rice, MLA

Prince Rupert Tourism is benefitting from funding for new welcome and wayfinding signage from the COVID-19 Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program. McClymont Park on the gateway into Prince Rupert is one of the first things tourists see entering the city by road. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
$695,000 Community Economic Recovery funds to benefit local organizations

Prince Rupert Tourism and Gitga’at Development Corporation to receive COVID-19 recovery funds

Wainwright Marine Services Ltd.’s “Ingenika” tugboat went missing in the Garner Canal area south and east of Kitimat on Feb. 11, resulting in two deaths and the rescue of a third man. (Wainwright Marine Photo)
Tug union demands Transport Canada protect workers along B.C. coast and rivers

ILWU makes safety demands following the deaths of two men and the rescue of a third

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

Most Read