OTTAWA — The woman who represented Queen Elizabeth as Canada’s official head of state, a high-profile but largely ceremonial role, resigned on Thursday after a report submitted to the government harshly criticized her treatment of employees.
Julie Payette, whose title was governor general, stepped down after months of media reports that she and a top adviser had belittled and publicly humiliated employees, often to the point of tears. In response, the government commissioned an independent review that several Canadian news outlets said had blamed her for creating a toxic work environment.
“For the good of our country and of our democratic institutions, I have come to the conclusion that a new governor general should be appointed,” Ms. Payette said in a statement issued late Thursday.
Ms. Payette, a former astronaut, was said in some news accounts to have quizzed employees about the distance between celestial bodies. Several staff members in her office have quit or gone on extended leaves.
Ms. Payette’s duties included signing all Canadian legislation into law and serving as commander in chief of the armed forces. A two-time Space Shuttle crew member, a former electrical engineer and an accomplished choir soprano, she had attracted an unusual amount of attention during her three-year tenure.
But little of it was positive.
The criticism of Ms. Payette went beyond how she treated employees. Questions were raised early on about Ms. Payette’s interest in the job, given her frequent absences from both official duties and the capital, Ottawa.
She was also faulted for using an apolitical position to make a speech at a science conference in which she appeared to challenge the validity of religious
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