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

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

The Barriere Outdoor Club’s ski and snowshoe trails at the Barriere Forks Trails had plenty of snow last week, and thanks to the club’s groomer, Steve Rainer, the trails were reported to be in great shape (Mary MacLennan photo)
Outdoor ski and snowshoe trails ready at Barriere Forks

New signs and freshly groomed ski and snowshoe trails are ready and… Continue reading

(Metro Creative graphic)
Heart Stroke takes Heart Month fundraiser 100% online

Door-to-door Canvass goes virtual as pandemic accelerates digital innovations

Table 1: All Student Completion Rates 2012-2013 to 2019-2020
Completion rates for SD73 students continue to improve

By Diana Skolund School District 73 Completion rates for students in School… Continue reading

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

The booklet roots present day activism in the history of racist policies, arguing the history must be acknowledged in order to change. (CCPA)
New resource dives into 150 years of racist policy in B.C.

Racist history must be acknowledged in order to change, authors say

Most Read