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Governor General's first year won't include Manitoba visit

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/9/2018 (397 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — The Governor General will not be visiting Manitoba within her first year in office, breaching a long-held tradition amid growing concerns Julie Payette’s work ethic is riling Rideau Hall staff.

With two weeks to go until the first anniversary of her installation as Canada's 29th vice-regal representative, Payette has also messed with protocol by failing to make the traditional welcoming visits to Saskatchewan and Yukon.

Multiple sources affiliated with Canada’s monarchists and heraldry movements say they’ve heard Payette has prioritized her work-life balance beyond what her staff expect.

“There are some questions about the nature of her schedule, and the amount of time she’s being asked to devote to certain things,” said Philippe Lagassé, a Carleton University professor specializing in the Westminster system.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/9/2018 (397 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — The Governor General will not be visiting Manitoba within her first year in office, breaching a long-held tradition amid growing concerns Julie Payette’s work ethic is riling Rideau Hall staff.

With two weeks to go until the first anniversary of her installation as Canada's 29th vice-regal representative, Payette has also messed with protocol by failing to make the traditional welcoming visits to Saskatchewan and Yukon.

Multiple sources affiliated with Canada’s monarchists and heraldry movements say they’ve heard Payette has prioritized her work-life balance beyond what her staff expect.

"There are some questions about the nature of her schedule, and the amount of time she’s being asked to devote to certain things," said Philippe Lagassé, a Carleton University professor specializing in the Westminster system.

<p>Governor General Julie Payette at Rideau Hall, the official residence of the Governor General of Canada, in Ottawa in 2017.</p>

FRED CHARTRAND / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES

Governor General Julie Payette at Rideau Hall, the official residence of the Governor General of Canada, in Ottawa in 2017.

Payette’s five direct predecessors all visited Manitoba within their first year on the job, and it’s been an unwritten tradition the Governor General visit each province during their first 12 months.

Michaëlle Jean, for example, made Winnipeg her first visit within a month of taking on the role in 2005. She visited the city multiple times, earning the namesake of a park in Point Douglas.

As of this week, Payette has visited eight of the country's 10 provinces and two of the three territories since the former astronaut became governor general on Oct. 2, 2017, in a ceremony filled with pomp and pageantry.

Rideau Hall told the Free Press she’d be heading to Saskatchewan next month — a visit that has yet to be officially announced.

"Mrs. Payette has visited Manitoba many times, and she is very much looking forward to meeting Manitobans, this time in her capacity as governor general," wrote her spokeswoman, Marie-Ève Létourneau.

"We continue working in close co-operation with Manitoban authorities to identify the earliest possible option for visiting the province."

Rocky start at Rideau Hall

OTTAWA — Gov. Gen. Julie Payette has had a rocky first year at Rideau Hall.

Earlier this month, the Globe and Mail reported "Payette has been frequently at odds with the RCMP over security issues."

Sources told the newspaper the Mounties were frustrated at the vice-regal for venturing into crowded areas of Montreal, going out alone on jogs, and resisting upgrades to her temporary home during extensive renovations to Rideau Hall.

OTTAWA — Gov. Gen. Julie Payette has had a rocky first year at Rideau Hall.

Earlier this month, the Globe and Mail reported "Payette has been frequently at odds with the RCMP over security issues."

Sources told the newspaper the Mounties were frustrated at the vice-regal for venturing into crowded areas of Montreal, going out alone on jogs, and resisting upgrades to her temporary home during extensive renovations to Rideau Hall.

This spring, The Canadian Press reported the Governor General’s various patrons were left in the dark when trying to plan their annual awards, scholarships and position appointments.

Both Rideau Hall’s senior secretaries are new to their jobs, but patrons complained meetings were taking many more weeks to schedule than previous years that involved a new vice-regal and staff.

The Governor General has numerous duties. In order to convene Parliament and give bills Royal Assent, the vice-regal has to keep abreast of cabinet minutes and constitutional issues. She welcomes state visits and is commander-in-chief of the Canadian Forces.

Rideau Hall has started delegating some of her events to the lieutenant-governors.

Last week, Manitoba Lt.-Gov. Janice Filmon presented the Governor General's medals for architecture, a task that had previously always been done at Rideau Hall.

— Dylan Robertson

While tracking Payette's movements might seem like inside baseball among the vice-regal community, Lagassé said it does speak to the expectations that surround the office.

"It's mostly a rumour… that she is less inclined to take on a very demanding schedule, particular on weekends and things like that, when you compare it to her predecessors," said Lagassé, though he stressed he couldn’t confirm that claim.

Garry Toffoli, executive director of the Canadian Royal Heritage Trust, said he’d expect a visit soon.

"It doesn’t have be exactly 12 (months); it's not a stopwatch... I think Manitoba would have a right to be upset if she doesn’t get there this fall."

Yet the office of Manitoba Lt.-Gov. Janice Filmon said that’s not likely.

"Now, we’re shooting for early in the new year," said spokeswoman Kate Gameiro.

Filmon's office has been in touch with Rideau Hall for "a couple months or more" trying to nail down a time when Payette, Filmon and Premier Brian Pallister will be in the same place.

"What it boils down to is just trying to co-ordinate the schedules of very busy individuals," Gameiro said. At one point, Rideau Hall tried pairing the Saskatchewan visit with Manitoba, she said.

John Fraser, an expert on monarchy issues who calls Payette a friend, says each governor general has a difficult first year, because of the scrutiny and grueling schedule.

"You don’t get to be an astronaut and go into orbit, not once but twice, by being lazy or not taking your job seriously," Fraser wrote in an email. "Each governor general brings his or her own personality and style to the office."

Toffoli cautioned against comparing Payette to her predecessor, David Johnston, who had a frenetic pace of events. "It’s a high standard that he set."

'What it boils down to is just trying to co-ordinate the schedules of very busy individuals' – Manitoba Lt.-Gov. spokeswoman, Kate Gameiro

Meanwhile, Payette has taken five international trips to Thailand, Eastern Europe, South Korea and the American Midwest.

Sources said Rideau Hall staff held a large meeting last week with Payette, during which they discussed main duties and how to better meet them this coming year.

In May, the Governor General’s staff disclosed they were reviewing her various duties, because a typical year involves 500 events and numerous papers to sign, as with every senior government appointment.

Rideau Hall spokeswoman Létourneau said all vice-regals "serve with a very high level of commitment and dedication, responding to the demanding nature of the position," and Payette’s work ethic has been on par with her predecessors.

"We regularly have more than half-a-dozen major events in a given week, more when on travel."

Lagassé said those critical of Payette’s already busy schedule ought to have "a more modern assessment of what we expect from this office."

In reports for the 2016-17 fiscal year, the governor general's office reported having 157 employees, and spending $38 million.

dylan.robertson@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Wednesday, September 19, 2018 at 7:06 PM CDT: Adds poll question

7:59 PM: Fixes pullquote attribution.

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