In a detailed statement, Payette said she took the allegations seriously – though she has not formally apologized or admitted to any misconduct in the workplace.
“While there have been no formal complaints or formal complaints lodged during my tenure, which would have promptly led to a detailed investigation as stipulated by law and applicable collective agreements, I continue to take these allegations seriously,” Payette said in the statement.
As first reported by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) last year, current and former government employees accused Payette of creating a bad workplace, harassing and bullying employees and minimizing tears of some employees.
In response, the Trudeau government hired an independent consulting firm to investigate the allegations. The report was finalized and submitted to the government earlier this week, which led to Payette’s resignation.
“I am a firm believer in the principles of natural justice, legal procedures and the rule of law, and that these principles apply to everyone equally,” Payette wrote. “Nevertheless, respecting the integrity of the Viceroy’s office and in the interest of our country and our democratic institutions, I have come to the conclusion that a new Governor-General should be appointed. Canadians deserve stability in these troubled times.”
The Canadian prime minister issued his own statement on Thursday, saying he had received Payette’s resignation. Trudeau has not confirmed any of Payette’s allegations. However, in the brief statement, he did not thank her for her service.
“Every Canadian government employee has the right to work in a safe and healthy environment, and we will always take this matter seriously,” Trudeau said in a statement. “Today’s announcement provides an opportunity for new leadership at Rideau Hall to address the workplace concerns raised by employees during the review.”
Trudeau said the Canadian Chief Justice will perform the governor’s duties on an interim basis until he makes a recommendation on a replacement for Queen Elizabeth.
Had Payet not agreed to resign in light of the workplace investigation, her dismissal would have caused a constitutional crisis in Canada, and would have imposed more formal involvement by the Queen.
Government officials told CNN that the report by independent investigators found that the allegations were consistent among employees and that the evidence of a toxic workplace was “strong.”
It is not clear whether the results of the workplace investigation will be made public.
In her resignation statement, Payette said, “Everyone has the right to a healthy and safe work environment at all times and in all circumstances. It appears that this has not always been the case in the Gov. Secretary-General’s office. Tensions have arisen in Rideau Hall over the past few months and for this, I’m sorry.”
However, she later added in the statement: “We all experience things differently, but we must always strive to do better, and be attentive to each other’s perceptions.”
The Prime Minister of Canada is tasked with recommending a candidate for Governor-General to be appointed as Queen Elizabeth. In 2017, when Payette recommended, Trudeau said she was “undoubtedly qualified for this high position.”
But Canada’s opposition leader, Erin O’Toole, accused the PMO of not thoroughly vetting Payette for the job. He said all political parties should have a say in who will replace Payet.
“The governor-general is the commander in chief of our armed forces and has an important constitutional role,” O’Toole said in a statement to CNN. “Given the problems of his recent appointment and the minority parliament, the prime minister must consult the opposition parties and reconstitute the committee to appoint the king’s representatives.”