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Queen's representative in Canada quits amid bullying investigation

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·3-min read

Watch: Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns after scathing workplace review

The Queen’s representative in Canada has quit her role amid a “scathing” report about bullying in her office.

Julie Payette resigned from the role of Governor General on Thursday, apologising that her office had not always been a “healthy and safe” place to work.

But Payette said no official complaints had been made during her time in the job, which she took on in October 2017.

In a statement as she resigned, she said: “I am a strong believer in the principles of natural justice, due process and the rule of law, and that these principles apply to all equally. Notwithstanding, in respect for the integrity of my vice-regal Office and for the good of our country and of our democratic institutions, I have come to the conclusion that a new Governor General should be appointed. Canadians deserve stability in these uncertain times.

“From a personal side, this decision comes at an opportune time, as my father’s health has seriously worsened in the last few weeks and my family needs my help.

“So it is with sureness and humility, but also with pride over what was accomplished during my tenure as Governor General and in my service to the country for the past 28 years, that I have submitted my resignation.”

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Canada's Governor General Julie Payette delivers the Throne Speech in the Senate, as parliament prepares to resume in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on September 23, 2020. (Photo by Adrian Wyld / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN WYLD/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Julie Payette has resigned amid the investigation. Here giving the Throne Speech in the Senate, in September 2020. (Adrian Wyld/AFP)
Julie Payette, Julie Payette, An International Astronaut, Mission Specialist, Representing The Canadian Space Agency (Csa). (Photo By Encyclopaedia Britannica/UIG Via Getty Images)
Julie Payette was an astronaut who represented the Canadian Space Agency (Csa). (Encyclopaedia Britannica/UIG Via Getty Images)

Payette was accused by staff at Rideau Hall, the offices of the Governor General, of creating a “toxic” environment, and was said to have reduced some employees to tears.

One government source told CBC the workplace had become a “house of horrors”.

An independent investigation was carried out, with reports suggesting the findings are damning for the Governor General. One report suggests it’s “scathing”.

It’s reported that 50 people took part in the investigation, which was carried out by a third party and has so far cost CAN$150,000 (£110,000).

According to CBC, a Buckingham Palace spokesman would not comment, adding: “This is a matter for the Canadian government so I would refer you to them.”

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Sophie Gregoire and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (C) look on as Governor General Julie Payette (L) delivers the Throne Speech in the Senate chamber on December 5, 2019 in Ottawa. (Photo by Fred Chartrand / POOL / AFP) (Photo by FRED CHARTRAND/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (C) next to Governor General Julie Payette (L) as she delivers the Throne Speech in the Senate chamber in December 2019 in Ottawa. (Fred Chartrand/AFP)

The Governor General is a role which exists in Commonwealth countries, maintaining the Queen’s link to governments around the world.

They are largely ceremonial, but the Governor General is responsible for many of the procedures that flow from the Queen’s role as head of state.

That would include opening parliament and giving Royal Assent.

Payette, 57, is a former Canadian Space Agency astronaut, who has one son. She has been married twice, but both ended in divorce. Her first language is French.

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