Report on Governor General’s conduct “serious” and “disappointing,” Nunavut MP says

Qaqqaq says all workers deserve “respect and dignity” as Payette resigns in wake of reports Rideau Hall was a toxic workplace

Julie Payette, who resigned as Governor General on Thursday, is seen here during a 36-hour visit to Nunvaut in 2018. (Photo from Twitter, @GGJuliePayette)

By Mélanie Ritchot

Updated at 10:46 p.m.

All workers deserve a safe and respectful workplace, Nunavut MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq said Thursday, reacting to news of Governor General Julie Payette’s resignation following an independent review that found a toxic work environment at Rideau Hall.

“The investigation’s findings are serious,” Qaqqaq said in a written statement issued after news organizations began reporting Payette and her secretary, Assunta di Lorenzo, had stepped down from their positions.

Last year, the Privy Council Office hired an outside consulting firm to conduct a review after reports of workplace harassment came forward about Payette, who was named the Queen’s representative in Canada in 2017, and di Lorenzo.

“Workers should feel safe and treated with respect and dignity in any workplace, especially in positions of public office,” Qaqqaq said.

“We have a responsibility to live up to a higher standard,” Qaqqaq said. “It is disappointing to learn that the Governor General’s office hadn’t put their workers’ safety and well-being first.”

Findings in the report, based on current and former employees’ stories, were damning, according to news reports.

The resignations were announced as the firm conducting the review delivered it to the Privy Council Office.

In a statement released Thursday, Payette said, she came to “the conclusion that a new Governor General should be appointed.”

“Everyone has a right to a healthy and safe work environment, at all times and under all circumstances,” she said.

“It appears this was not always the case at the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General,” Payette said, adding she took allegations “seriously” and had welcomed a review of the work climate.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also issued a statement echoing the right of government employees 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 said.

Until a new representative for the Queen is appointed, Supreme Court of Canada chief justice Richard Wagner automatically becomes the acting governor general.

Payette visited Iqaluit and Pangnirtung in 2018 to meet with local leaders and to “see how the Arctic is warming up a lot faster than the southern latitudes,” according to a release from Payette’s office.

She also visited Inukshuk High School’s 10th-grade class virtually in December 2020.

During Payette’s time as Governor General, many people with ties to Nunavut and Nunavik were named to the Order of Canada, including John Amagoalik, Josef Svoboda, Pita Aatami, Johnny Issaluk and Paul Nicklen. Two of them received the second-highest rank within the order, Officer of the Order of Canada.

Nunavut’s recently appointed commissioner and former premier, Eva Aariak, was also named to the Order of Canada by Payette, in 2018.

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(21) Comments:

  1. Posted by iWonder on

    I don’t disagree with you on this, Mumilaaq, but in noticing that you have taken the time to issue a statement on it, I wonder if you plan to issue any statements on the Nunavummiut that we have lost to covid 19? It seems like this might be something more pressing to your constituents.

    • Posted by i Wonder 2 on

      I agree too. Just releasing a quick statement once the report was released yesterday and echoing that a safe and non-toxic workplace is not at all as important as involving yourself in the real issues Nunavut is facing. Yes, we all know about Public housing, pick a different approach and identify the root issues. It’s time to move on without riding the horse of colonization. It’s not deniable that it happened, it time to find a way to overcome it. It starts at home

      • Posted by monty sling on

        Gn is just as toxic work place. Many managers feel nunanvumiut have no place in middle and upper management at gn hallowed walls. Oh so many relatives to bring up but watch dogs are so sensitive to daily issues.

        • Posted by Matthew S. Honeycomb on

          I am not worried about harrassment in the GN. We should just punish those with a complaint and payout those who harass others. So simple. Solves the problem in so many ways.

          • Posted by Here’s an idea on

            At least the federal government is transparent about their investigations of wrongdoing and the bennefits the wrongdoers recieves. I welcome our MP or MLAs to advocate the GN to do the same. Why let harassers or perverts etc move on to harass others in another organization.

      • Posted by Voters regret on

        When all you have is a hammer, your success depends on convincing everyone that everything a nail.

    • Posted by CheckFacts on

      I don’t care about the GG either, but Mumilaaq did put out a statement when we found out about the people that died of COVID.

      • Posted by iWonder on

        Well, I read a little bit. I just read what you posted, for example, and didn’t see Mumilaaq’s name anywhere. As far as I can tell this is an ‘NDP Statement,’ not one from our MP.

        Also, this was dated Nov. 7th. Before anyone had passed due to the virus, which was my original point. So, I don’t really know what you are getting at? Maybe you should slow down a little and think through your points a bit better?

        • Posted by Literacy Teacher on

          You appear to have missed the header at the top of that page that says ᒧᒥᓛᖅ ᖃᖅᑲᖅ Mumilaaq Qaqqaq.

          Or the email address at the bottom that says mumilaaq.qaqqaq@parl.gc.ca

          I know. Reading is hard.

          • Posted by iWonder on

            Reading can be hard, but comprehension appears to be even harder.

            It clearly says “A statement from the NDP” and references the first case of Covid in Nunavut, not the first deaths. Go find the press release that references those and get back to us, as that was my point.

            Your argument is a strawman.

  2. Posted by Paradigm Shift on

    Dear Monty Sling

    I don’t know if the idea that Inuit are being held down in the GN is as widely true as you think. I know it’s become a standard trope, and everyone accepts it as reality because people like yourself toss it around so frivolously and so often. I work in a large GN division and we have gone through hoops here to place Inuit specifically into the most important rolls, and there they are. I dare say, some are just as toxic as anyone else can be.
    And, unfortunately, some are in totally over their head; the result of an almost borderline obsession with the identity of the person occupying their chair (as opposed to experience and track record). Inuit should occupy whatever positions they wish too, and from my little corner of the GN universe it seems to be happening. However, if we are going to prioritize it above all other variables (which we shouldn’t, in my opinion) we need to accept the price tag it brings. As far as I have seen there is no magic inherent in being an Inuk that is going to make things run better or more smoothly. There is nothing about posting IQ values all over the walls that makes anyone pay any attention to them or try to live by them either.

    • Posted by Heretics Abound on

      Ssshhh, such truths are seen as heresy by many.

  3. Posted by Crystal Clarity on

    Such an immature response to this situation. The CBC has been conducting an investigation for several months and even reporting on some aspects prior to the report. I can almost see you grandstanding and crying already….how about looking at your own constituency and bringing up something important to us

    • Posted by Baffin on

      Too much time trying to fight white people and maybe impress friends. Not doing a whole lot to speak to us about pandemic and like the person said how about saying something to people who lost loved ones what do we care about the governor general?

  4. Posted by Disappointing on

    I wish we had a MP that focuses more on Nunavut and do some actual work to improve things for Nunavut.
    FB and Twitter comments do very little and I have been so disappointed that I will be voting differently next time.
    We need a MP that works hard for our territory and build bridges with other MPs and federal officials, not burn them.
    Lack of experience has been really showing through, get some better experienced staff to help you and maybe this term won’t be such a loss for us all.

    • Posted by Just agreeing on

      Not gonna happen tho, she’s way down the rabbit hole and thinks these rants and raves are the way to fix things. Anyone who has worked in a big organization knows how counterproductive this way of going about things is.

  5. Posted by Paul Murphy on

    Good comments all. I agree many managers go to great lengths to hire eligible Inuit for positions within the GN.
    However, sometimes due to lack of education and experience some are promoted to positions that, like our MP, literally set up the employee for failure and that is an absolute shame. We need just to look back at the history of our government and out local organizations to see the truth in that.
    One note for our younger population. Get your education for as long and for as far as possible. Then start in a job at the bottom towards a long term career of your choice. Work hard at you career and I can guarantee success. Look around you and see what the successful Inuit accomplished and how did they do it. Seek their input when you need to. Rest assured it won’t be easy, but you will be more than satisfied and will have set an example for others to follow.

    • Posted by North Baffiner on

      I concur with Mr. Murphy as I worked at the GN for almost four years as a regional director. I ensured that I hired only the most capable and experienced workers, mainly Inuit for our department. It worked out largely, although I find the responses are a lot slower then when I ran that ship…LOL.
      There are some people who will always be negative nellies, so to speak or the rotten apple of the barrel. For some reason, the GN attracts that type of personality from both southern and northern locales…heh heh. It always stems from the leadership, either due to the lack of it or because the leader left and the pack is retooling. Anyhow, it is a shame to see how in some departments, only people who kowtow to the director/boss are hired and usually from their hometown or household.
      As for our MP, better to have statements ready and know that you will never satisfy some people, although it is better to offer solutions rather than just blame the old systems or dwell on past mistakes. We should look at ideas that involve making housing using more local materials, and commercialize ideas that allow communities to build more local housing units with less shipping costs and ability to replace parts that may be missing…currently you have to airlift it in or wait until the next sealift.
      I would just echo the sentiment to continue your education and to never stop learning. Remain humble and true to your roots and in most cases, the cream does rise to the top…although we leave to make cheese…LOL.

  6. Posted by It’s about time a toxic woman got taken down…. on

    Sorry to hear of the GGs embarrassing report. But FINALLY a toxic woman is shown the door. There are far too many toxic women in management roles in Nunavut. These angry insecure women are doing nothing to move Nunavut forward and everyone is afraid of them. There are toxic men too of course, but that is for another topic.
    Mumilaaq you are better than those toxic women…even though I am not politically on your side I respect you as a caring woman. Keep going forward and leave the toxic naysayers in your dust.

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