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Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns

Darpan News Desk The Canadian Press, 22 Jan, 2021
  • Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns

Julie Payette has resigned as Governor General, saying Canadians deserve stability in uncertain times.

Payette says she is sorry for the tensions that have arisen at Rideau Hall in the past months.

She is leaving amid reports that the results of an investigation into allegations of a toxic workplace at Rideau Hall are expected to be released.

Payette says everyone has the right to a healthy and safe work environment and it appears this was not always the case.

She says out of respect for the integrity of her office, and for the good of the country and its democratic institutions, a new Governor General should be appointed.

In her statement, she says the decision also comes as her father's health has deteriorated and her family needs her help.

The Privy Council Office revealed last year that Quintet Consulting Corp. had been hired to conduct a third-party investigation into allegations of workplace harassment in the office of the Governor General.

That came after CBC reports alleged that Payette belittled and publicly humiliated employees, reducing some to tears or prompting them to quit.

That prompted the Privy Council Office to launch a workplace review, which Payette herself welcomed at the time with a statement that said she was "deeply concerned" about the allegations.

Payette, a former astronaut, was named to the position in 2017.

Reactions to resignation of Julie Payette as GG

“Every employee in the government of Canada has the right to work in a safe and healthy environment, and we will always take this very seriously. Today's announcement provides an opportunity for new leadership at Rideau Hall to address the workplace concerns raised by employees during the review."

— Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

“The Governor General is the commander-in-chief of our Armed Forces and has an important constitutional role. Considering the problems with his last appointment and the minority Parliament, the prime minister should consult opposition parties and re-establish the viceregal appointments committee.”

— Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole

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"Julie Payette's resignation further demonstrates that the government must immediately release the report on working conditions at Rideau Hall. Now, the vacant post of Governor General is a great opportunity to question the usefulness of an outdated function that has no place in a democracy."

— Bloc Québécois MP Rhéal Fortin, critic for the Privy Council (in French).

Who does the job in the meantime?

The usual term for a governor general is five years. In the event of the absence, removal, incapacitation or death of a governor general, the chief justice or, if he or she is unavailable, the senior judge of the Supreme Court of Canada assumes the powers of the governor general and holds the title of Administrator of the Government of Canada, until replaced by a new governor general.

How is a new one is chosen?

By constitutional convention, the governor general is appointed by the Queen on the personal recommendation of the Canadian prime minister. The prime minister has discretion about whether to consult others on the selection. The appointment is made through a commission granted under the Great Seal of Canada.

Has a governor general ever left early or died in office?

Yes. Roméo LeBlanc stepped down in 1999, before the end of his term, due to health issues. However, the office was not left vacant, with LeBlanc continuing until Adrienne Clarkson was ready to succeed him. Two have died while serving: Lord Tweedsmuir (John Buchan) in 1940 and Georges Vanier in 1967. In each case, the Supreme Court chief justice of the day stepped in to fill the role temporarily.

Photo courtesy of Instagram. 

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