Trudeau Must Look Into Complaints About Governor General, Singh Says

July 22, 2020 Updated: July 22, 2020

OTTAWA—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has an obligation to look into allegations that Gov. Gen. Julie Payette mistreated staff members, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says.

Workplaces need to be safe, and employees must feel they are heard when they raise concerns, said Singh.

“I’m not being prescriptive about what the prime minister must do exactly. But there is no question there is an obligation, a responsibility of the prime minister in this case, with the Governor General and the complaints that we’ve seen, to do something, to follow up with those complaints,” he said Wednesday in Ottawa.

Singh was responding to questions about a CBC News report that quoted anonymous sources as saying Payette has created a toxic environment at Rideau Hall.

The CBC reported Tuesday that Payette had yelled at, belittled and publicly humiliated employees, reducing some to tears or prompting them to quit.

“People should be able to feel safe to come forward. I think that’s always a struggle for people,” said Singh.

“There needs to be some manner for someone independently to assess the complaints.”

Singh pressed Trudeau on the matter in the House of Commons but the prime minister did not specifically address it.

“Every Canadian has the right to a safe, secure workspace, free from harassment and that is extremely important,” Trudeau said.

“That’s why we moved forward on June 22 with announcements on strengthening the oversight in federally regulated agencies and environments, including the public service.”

Earlier Wednesday, Trudeau did not take questions as he entered the Commons.

The Prime Minister’s Office declined Tuesday to answer questions about the report but said every Canadian has the right to work in a healthy, respectful and safe environment.

In a statement Tuesday, the Governor General’s press secretary said Rideau Hall strongly believes in the importance of a healthy workplace, adding the CBC story stands in stark contrast to the reality of working at the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General.

“We deeply regret this reporting, which is in stark contrast to the reality of working at the OSGG, and obscures the important work done by our dedicated staff in honouring, representing, and showcasing Canadians,” said the Rideau Hall statement.

Rideau Hall said it has “stringent internal processes for our employees to voice concerns” through its human resources department, an independent ombudsman, and its “excellent relationships” with the unions that represent employees.

“Since the beginning of the mandate, no formal complaint regarding harassment has been made through any of these channels,” the statement said.

Rideau Hall said it has a lower turnover compared with other departments, and that one of the benefits of being in the public service is the ability to move to different departments to get new career experience.

The statement said that is “something that is personally encouraged by the Governor General, who believes that career growth and opportunity are vitally important.”