The CBC is reporting that hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent to satisfy Gov. Gen. Julie Payette’s need for privacy at Rideau Hall, but she still hasn’t moved into her official residence almost three years into her five-year mandate.
According to the story the Governor General has demanded a number of renovations before she will move into Rideau Hall. These include almost $140,000, spent studying and designing a private staircase that was never built, and more than $117,500 on a gate and series of doors to keep people away from Payette’s office. This came from the National Capital Commission who are responsible for the residences of the Governor-General and the Prime Minister.
According to multiple sources, Payette doesn’t like maintenance workers in her line of sight. Even RCMP paid to protect Payette are no longer allowed to stand directly outside her office door and must hide in a room down the hallway, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter. Only some select staff currently have access to the restricted area by her office.
Payette’s press secretary, Ashlee Smith, suggested it’s not in the public’s interest for the media to ask about Payette’s living arrangements.
The story says Payette has belittled construction workers who are carrying out scheduled extensive repairs to the property unrelated to the GG’s personal demands.
Payette has been living just outside the gates of Rideau Hall at another official guest house, as reported by the Ottawa Citizen.
Waterdown history teacher Nathan Tidridge, the vice-president of the Institute for the Study of the Crown in Canada at Massey College, says the Governor General should be in her official residence.”It’s a missed opportunity,” said Tidridge. “There’s nothing wrong with Rideau Hall, it’s a beautiful space. It’s important the Governor General be resident there and not just use it as a space for events. For people that visit Rideau Hall it’s important it be seen as a home of the Governor General and not just a place of work. It sets a tone, a symbolic tone … Rideau Hall is our preeminent, constitutional, culture and treaty space within Canada.”
The CBC report says that early in Payette’s mandate she wanted a door for her cats to be able to exit the living quarters on the second floor and go outside, said sources. The idea then changed into a private exit for Payette.
All of this is unfolding as the Privy Council has launched an investigation into allegations of a toxic work environment at Rideau Hall centering around Payette and her secretary.