Canada’s Governor General, Julie Payette, resigned on Thursday after an outside workplace review found the former astronaut presided over a toxic work environment at the vice-regal office.
In a statement, Payette acknowledged that tensions at her office in Rideau Hall in Ottawa had risen “over the past few months” and offered her apology.
“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,” Payette said.
“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.”
Payette said her resignation comes at a good time because her father is in poor health and her family needs her help.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said “every employee in the Government of Canada has the right to work in a safe and healthy environment.”
“Today’s announcement provides an opportunity for new leadership at Rideau Hall to address the workplace concerns raised by employees during the review,” Trudeau added.
The Privy Council Office, which oversees Canada’s federal public service, initiated the review in July following reports that Payette and her secretary, Assunta di Lorenzo, were harassing employees.
The allegations were first reported by CBC News.
“While no formal complaints or official grievances were made during my tenure, which would have immediately triggered a detailed investigation as prescribed by law and the collective agreements in place, I still take these allegations very seriously,” Payette said, adding that she welcomed the review and “repeatedly encouraged employees to participate in the review in large numbers.”
“We all experience things differently, but we should always strive to do better, and be attentive to one another’s perceptions,” Payette said.
Earlier on Thursday, the Globe and Mail newspaper, citing confidential sources, reported that the independent review of workplace abuse allegations had been completed, and that it paints “a very negative picture” of Payette.
The Governor General is the Queen’s representative in Canada and acts as the head of state in her absence.
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada Richard Wagner will serve as the acting Governor General, Trudeau said.
“A recommendation on a replacement will be provided to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and announced in due course,” he added.