(Ottawa) “Howls”, “aggressive behavior”, “public humiliations”: the report that paints the portrait of Julie Payette’s time at Rideau Hall is final: upon taking office in 2017, the former Governor General has created a “toxic work climate”.
The report of the firm Quintet Consulting Team, which looked at the work climate marking the three years of reign of the representative of Queen Elizabeth II in Canada, was made public in the early evening on Wednesday.
It is this redacted document, which spans 132 pages, which led to the resignation of Julie Payette.
It says that 75% of the 92 participants in the exercise, which was conducted in confidence, described the work environment as “hostile” or “negative” (43 people), or even “toxic” or “poisoned”. (26 people).
One in five (20 in all) said they “witnessed harassment” or referred to it; “The information was about screaming, yelling, aggressive behavior, degrading comments and public humiliation”, it is written from the first pages.
Interviews conducted throughout the fall with past employees (29), present (41) and individuals familiar with the situation (22) resulted in more than 500 pages. The interest in taking part in the process was such that we had to limit each testimony to one hour at most, it is specified in the report.
The work environment, which eight people described as a ‘regime of terror’ marked by disrespect and ‘condescension’, resulted in ‘record turnover’ and even ‘exodus. From Rideau Hall employees.
Thus, during the tenure of the ex-astronaut, 17 employees left the ship, including 16 within a year, while 13 requested sick leave, told the people interviewed in the context of this exam.
It is not clear from the report whether the main party and her right-hand man, Assunta Di Lorenzo, who was also targeted by the allegations, took part in the exercise. However, the management team offers a storytelling by exposing that there was a form of “resistance” to change within the team of employees.
Ideas like hiring a statistician to collect information on the effectiveness of certain operations, setting up the “mission control center” that the Governor General cherished, and streamlining the process for the mission. ‘The Order of Canada were thus unsuccessful, it lists in the document.
“Immediate attention” required
The conclusion of the review is, however, final. “There is a serious problem that requires the immediate attention of the Privy Council Office [le ministère du premier ministre] “, And it must” act quickly and decisively “, it is written in black and white.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saw the final report – a draft version was submitted to the Privy Council Office on January 4, 2020 – last week. The one he appointed with great fanfare in October 2017 informed her of his intention to throw in the towel on January 20.
The next day, in her farewell message, Julie Payette said she was “sorry” to see that “tensions have arisen at Rideau Hall over the past few months”, while writing a little further that “we are all living things differently ”.
She said in passing that the decision to leave her post came “at the right time” for personal reasons. “My father’s health has seriously deteriorated in recent weeks and my family needs my help,” she pleaded.
The report was commissioned last July, after the CBC network reported on the harsh working conditions under the leadership of Julie Payette. In its document, Quintet Consulting Team deplores that there is no mechanism allowing employees to complain about their working conditions.
The firm also believes that hiring an outside consultant would be of no use.
“To do otherwise would be seen as a way of making employees bear responsibility for restoring a better work environment and would inevitably lead to cynicism and a lack of confidence in the willingness to tackle the real source of their concerns” , she emphasizes.
Employees from four departments (Global Affairs, National Defense, Heritage, Public Services and Procurement Canada) and two federal agencies (RCMP and National Capital Commission) work with Rideau Hall to support activities in which the Governor General is involved.
No pension, asks the opposition
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is necessarily splashed by this affair. Opposition parties criticized him for having lacked judgment in ignoring the appointment process that had been established under former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Again Wednesday, during the question period in the House, the Conservative MP Luc Berthold urged him to find a way to “put an end to the golden retirement” of Julie Payette by depriving her in particular of the life annuity of 150,000 $ per year that she must earn.