Trudeau didn’t check Julie Payette’s references

Trudeau didn't check Julie Payette's references
Trudeau didn't check Julie Payette's references

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his officials never conducted checks with Julie Payette’s former employers at the Montreal Science Centre and the Canadian Olympic Committee that might have raised red flags about her behaviour with co-workers and subordinates before her appointment as Governor General, sources tell CBC News.

Multiple sources have told CBC News they were stunned by Trudeau’s decision to appoint Payette in 2017. They have questioned the prime minister’s judgment.

“A number of us were blown away when she got appointed,” said a former board member at the Canada Lands Company (CLC), the self-financing Crown corporation that owns and operates the Montreal Science Centre. Payette was vice president of CLC and chief operating officer of the Montreal Science Centre from 2013 to 2016.

“This is a Crown corporation owned by the government,” said the former board member. “You would have thought they’d call to check out her credentials.”

Payette and her Rideau Hall office are now at the centre of an unprecedented third-party investigation launched by the Privy Council Office. In July, a CBC News report quoted a dozen confidential public servants and former employees who claim the Governor General belittled, berated and publicly humiliated Rideau Hall staff.

Payette received severance in 2016: sources

Payette was given severance of roughly $200,000 when she resigned from the Montreal Science Centre in 2016 following complaints about her treatment of employees, say multiple sources. In 2017, Payette left the Canadian Olympic Committee after two internal investigations into her treatment of staff including verbal harassment, sources said.

CBC News spoke to 15 confidential sources who worked with Payette, including current and former employees and board members at the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Montreal Science Centre, the Canada Lands Company and the Canadian Space Agency. They spoke on the condition they not be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly, could lose their jobs, still work in the industry or, in some cases, continue to interact with Rideau Hall.

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