Ottawa: Allegations that Gov. Gen. Julie Payette mistreated staff members prompted calls for investigations of varying stripes on Wednesday, with one expert suggesting the matter should be dealt with quietly to preserve the integrity of the office.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to investigate the matter, while one Liberal cabinet minister said it was the job of Rideau Hall to probe the complaints.
Meanwhile, Philippe Lagasse, an expert of Westminster-style democracy, said it was in the interest of the country for Trudeau and Payette’s offices to resolve the matter behind closed doors to prevent more damage to the institution of the Governor General.
“Everybody’s best option right now is to try to deal with the issue decisively but discreetly,’’ said Lagasse, of the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University.
“You don’t want to turn this into a confrontation between the prime minister and the Governor General, nor do you want to be in a situation where the prime minister feels that he either needs to pressure the Governor General to resign or ultimately advise the Queen to dismiss her. It shouldn’t get there.’’
The controversy erupted after 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.
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.
“People should be able to feel safe to come forward. I think that’s always a struggle for people,’’ Singh added. “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
By Mike Blanchfield
and Stephanie Levitz
The Canadian Press