Canada's governor general faces review after harassment claims

FILE PHOTO: Canada's Governor General Julie Payette speaks during the Order of Canada ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada November 21, 2019. REUTERS/Blair Gable/File Photo

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s Governor General Julie Payette is under investigation amid allegations of workplace harassment against the former astronaut, who holds a largely ceremonial role as Queen Elizabeth’s representative in the country.

On Thursday, Canada’s Privy Council Office, a group of bureaucrats who serve Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, said it would conduct a “thorough, independent, and impartial” probe into claims of verbal abuse and bullying by Payette.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp (CBC), citing unnamed sources, reported this week that staffers had accused Payette of creating a toxic work environment.

In a statement in response, Payette’s spokeswoman said the CBC report was “in stark contrast to the reality of working at the OSGG (Office of the Secretary to the Governor General)”.

Payette, the fourth woman to serve in the role, was appointed in 2017 by Trudeau. She was formerly the country’s chief astronaut and the first Canadian to board the International Space Station.

The lion’s share of the governor general’s role is ceremonial, including the swearing-in of the prime minister, chief justices and cabinet ministers and formally signing legislation into law, but the job can also entail settling constitutional questions.

The governor general is also nominally Canada’s commander-in-chief.

Writing by Amran Abocar; editing by Richard Pullin