Trudeau lauds Payette's career, says he'll wait for reviewer's work in harassment probe
OTTAWA -- A week after saying Julie Payette was doing an "excellent job" and would not be immediately replaced as governor general, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau now says he'll wait for the results of an investigation into the allegations of workplace harassment against Payette.
"The governor general has a long and successful role as a scientist, as an astronaut. We have engaged a third party reviewer to follow up on these serious allegations and we will wait for the reviewer to do their work," Trudeau said, speaking in Toronto on Wednesday.
The ongoing investigation was launched in response to allegations that employees in Payette's office were subjected to harassment.
Trudeau's comments on Wednesday mark a shift from his remarks to a radio station just one week ago, when he appeared to come to Payette’s defence. At the time, Trudeau said she was doing an "excellent job," despite the ongoing investigation.
Shortly after the prime minister made the comment while appearing on RED FM's The Harjinder Thind Show in Vancouver last Wednesday, the NDP issued a statement criticizing his stance.
"How can he be so sure that Ms. Payette is an 'excellent' Governor General and that it's appropriate for her to remain in her current role without hearing the facts first?" NDP whip Rachel Blaney said in a statement.
"The prime minister appointed Ms. Payette and he has an obligation to show some real leadership, accept the findings of the investigation, and ensure people working in that office are treated with respect and dignity."
Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole was also asked about the issue last Wednesday, but he said it would be inappropriate for him to comment on whether Payette should continue to serve as Governor General.
Citing anonymous sources, the CBC reported in July that Payette had belittled and publicly humiliated employees, which drove some to tears and others to quit. Postmedia and the CBC have also reported that hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on renovations at Rideau Hall, the Governor General’s official residence.
Ottawa-based Quintet Consulting Corp. has been enlisted to conduct the third-party investigation, the Privy Council Office announced last week, and that investigation is currently underway.
Should the prime minister decide he wishes for Payette to step down from the role, he could engage in a conversation in the hopes that she’ll agree to resign. If that doesn't work, Trudeau’s only option is to call the Queen to request Payette’s dismissal.
With files from The Canadian Press