That sum is larger than the original value of the contract the federal government entered into to hire a third party to conduct an external review of the workplace culture at Rideau Hall. On Sept. 2, the Privy Council Office (PCO) said Quintet Consulting was hired on an $88,325 contract.
The PCO triggered the probe in response to a CBC News report in July citing a dozen public servants and former employees claiming confidentially that Gov. Gen. Julie Payette belittled, berated and publicly humiliated Rideau Hall staff. Her second-in-command, Assunta Di Lorenzo, is also accused of bullying staff. Many staff members have gone on leave or have left the office altogether, according to former employees.
In July, Payette said she welcomed the review and takes “harassment and workplace issues very seriously.”
Rideau Hall hired former NDP national director Karl Bélanger and his firm, Traxxion Strategies, in August to provide strategic communications counsel and media relations support to Payette.
The public relations and communications firm has been paid under $5,000 for its services so far, according to Payette’s press secretary.
“It is an honour and a privilege to serve our country,” Bélanger said in a statement.
Law firm Blakes is also assisting the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General (OSGG) in the review process and has been paid $74,500 to date.
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- Privy Council Office launches workplace probe of Governor General’s office over harassment claims
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Ashlee Smith, Payette’s press secretary, said OSGG doesn’t have its own lawyers and the contracts “are a normal part of such an exercise.”
“This decision was made due to the fact that the OSGG does not have in-house legal counsel, and as with any process, there were some legal and constitutional questions that required addressing, in order to ensure that there would be no conflict of interest for the PCO Legal Services sector,” Smith said in a statement.
Smith said the contracts were awarded in accordance with the rules and with the consent of the Department of Justice. The government proactively released the figures at Radio-Canada’s request.
The OSGG has taken these steps given the circumstances of the review that has been undertaken by PCO and given the critical importance of the independence of the institution and has co-operated fully with the review. (7/7)
Smith said the “rights of OSGG staff regarding privacy and confidentiality, which were not covered in the initial terms of reference, are being protected through this counsel.”
In September, Quintet invited current employees to share their workplace experiences confidentially and gave them until Oct. 5 to let the company know if they wanted to participate. Some former employees got in touch with the company proactively to put their names on the list.
About the Author
Ashley Burke is a senior reporter with CBC’s Parliamentary Bureau. Have a story idea? Email her at email@example.com