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Julie Payette’s bumpy tenure as Governor General


Julie Payette’s bumpy tenure as Governor General

Governor General Julie Payette announced Thursday that she will be stepping down. This comes after a report conducted by an independent consulting firm found that Payette and her secretary Assunta di Lorenzo were responsible for workplace harassment at Rideau Hall during her three-year tenure.

While she isn’t the first Governor General to resign, her time in the job has not been without controversy:

Aug. 22, 2017: Embroiled in a gruelling court case, the incoming Governor General ended her bid to seal divorce records requested by major Canadian media outlets, including The Star. Payette was arrested in 2011 on assault charges against her then-husband Billie Flynn. The charges were later withdrawn and destroyed by court order, according to court officials.

Wrote Payette: “Not wishing my family to revisit the difficult moments we have been through, it was my hope that our privacy would be preserved. That is why I initially sought to keep our divorce proceedings under seal.”

Sept. 14, 2017: The former-astronaut was appointed Governor General, being the 29th person and fourth woman to hold the position as the Queen’s representative in Canada.


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Sept. 20, 2017: Payette was cleared for her involvement in a 2011 car accident, which resulted in the death of 55-year-old Theresa “Terry” Potts. Payette, then living in Maryland as part of an astronaut program, hits a pedestrian as Payette made her way home from a work trip in Florida. The case was closed in 2012. It was noted that Potts had pre-existing medical conditions and poor eyesight.

Oct. 1, 2018: Payette has been criticized for her work ethic in her role as Governor General. She attended 195 official events in her first year, compared to more than 250 for the last two governors generals. She also broke the tradition of visiting all Canadian provinces and territories in her first year, missing Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Yukon.

July 23, 2020: CBC reported that Payette, in her role as Governor General, has been the subject of workplace harassment, going as far as to “belittle” and “reduce some staff members to tears, causing multiple people to quit.” Her secretary, Assunta di Lorenzo was also accused of bullying, calling staff “lazy” and “incompetent.

July 24, 2020: The Privy Council Office launched an independent review of allegations that Gov. Gen. Julie Payette mistreated past and current employees at Rideau Hall, after multiple unnamed sources came forward to CBC to express concerns.

Ann Marie Elpa is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Reach her via email:

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