The Senate has had the opportunity to do what many Canadians want – cut the lifetime benefits of the disgraceful former Governor General. Julie Payette – but they balked Tuesday night, says The Blacklock reporter.
Senators argued that cutting Payette’s benefits would not be fair to her and that she could turn to the courts.
Payette resigned from her job after a workplace investigation revealed systemic harassment. She was only three and a half years old in her tenure.
“I’m just wondering if the former Governor General decided to turn to the courts, what that might mean in terms of problems for our country,” said Senator Lucie Moncion (Ont.).
Bill S-232 would retroactively deny Payette’s benefits and those of any future appointees who fail to complete their term. Payette is entitled to a life annuity of $ 143,000 per year and an annual expense budget of $ 206,040.
“It is simply a shameful situation,” said Senator Claude Carignan (Quebec), sponsor of the bill.
“It’s shocking for a lot of Canadians.
“The average salary in Canada is $ 48,800 and if an employee wanted to build up a decent pension they would have to contribute for many years. It is inconceivable and irresponsible that an individual who does not complete his five-year term automatically receives a pension for life.
Payette resigned on January 21 after seventeen employees left Rideau Hall following complaints of workplace bullying. Legal fees in the case cost taxpayers $ 249,627. A human resources investigation cost an additional $ 369,367.
It was the shortest term of a Governor General since 1872.
“I don’t intend to try the Governor General, but to be honest I was amazed to learn that the law does not offer any direction on the payment of a lifetime pension,” Carignan said.
Lifetime benefits for Payette “made no sense. This situation was clearly not anticipated by lawmakers.
However, senators said the retroactive elimination of benefits was unfair to Payette.
“When she accepted this position, she knew there were certain advantages associated with her position, so now you are taking them away from her,” said Senator Pierre Dalphond (Quebec).
“Yes, it’s true,” Carignan replied.
“As unpleasant as we may find the pension going to the former general, it is not her fault that she agreed to the terms and conditions of the post as these were the terms and conditions,” said Senator Percy Downe (PEI).
“I am not in favor of any retroactive provision in your bill. “
“It seems to me that this is a question of fairness,” said Senator Éric Forest (Quebec).
“Let’s say the person quits after a month or four years, I mean, that’s a big difference.”
The last governor general to resign before his term expired was Roméo LeBlanc, who resigned in 1999 after four years due to the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Jules Leger, appointed Governor General in 1974, served his entire term despite a severe stroke during six months in power which forced him to follow speech therapy.
“These long months have brought me closer to those who are suffering,” Léger said in his 1975 New Years message.
Senators adjourned second reading debate on the bill on Tuesday evening.