Consulting firm hired to examine harassment allegations at Rideau Hall

08 September 2020 2 min. read

The Privy Council office has hired Quintet Consulting Corp., a firm specializing in workplace conflict management, to review allegations of workplace harassment in the office of Gov. Gen. Julie Payette.

CBC News in July reported claims from current and former Rideau Hall employees that Payette has created a toxic work environment – yelling at subordinates, reducing some to tears, and prompting others to quit. Assunta Di Lorenzo, the Secretary to the Governor General, has also been accused of bullying staff.

In response, the Privy Council Office (PCO) on July 23 said that it would investigate the work environment at Rideau Hall.

The PCO last week announced that it had hired an external consulting firm to review the claims. Ottawa-based Quintet Consulting will interview current and former Rideau Hall employees about their concerns and analyze whether the alleged incidents meet the definition of harassment or a toxic work environment. The consulting firm will also meet with Rideau Hall’s HR department to examine the workplace harassment policies currently in place.

Consulting firm hired to examine harassment allegations at Rideau Hall

Founded in 1993, Quintet’s consulting work focuses on investigations into alleged harassment and misconduct; organizational reviews; workplace policy development; and training. The company has 15 consultants and has completed more than 1000 engagements in Canada and across the globe.

The firm’s report is expected to be completed later this fall. The full contents of the report will not be released publically, though opposition critics expect some of the review’s anonymized findings to be made public.

Payette in July stated, “I am completely committed to ensuring that every employee who works at Rideau Hall enjoys a secure and healthy work environment at all times and under all circumstances. I take harassment and workplace issues very seriously and I am in full agreement and welcome an independent review.”

PM Trudeau opted not to comment on the claims against Payette until last week, when he was interviewed on a Vancouver radio show. “We have an excellent Governor General right now,” Trudeau said. The PM also stated that they were not currently contemplating removing Payette from office.

Gov. Gen. Payette has also drawn criticism for spending more than $250,000 on privacy-related renovations at Rideau Hall. She has yet to move into the official residence three years into her five-year term.

A 2019 survey of Rideau Hall staff – which numbers approximately 150 workers – found that 22% felt they were victims of harassment on the job. Of those respondents, three quarters said they experienced harassment from people with authority over them.