• The Buffalo Tribune Team

Julie Payette may be stripped of her Order of Canada



An advisory council is thinking about taking the ex-governor general's own Order of Canada away.

Only seven people have ever been expelled from the Order of Canada in its more than 50-year history — and no one has ever been dropped from the order due to allegations of harassment — says Rideau Hall.

"Never has a Governor General been stripped of an honour. It's as simple as that," said Michael Jackson, president of the Institute for the Study of the Crown in Canada at Massey College in Toronto. "There is a long process and due process has to take place. If it happens, it will be absolutely unprecedented."


Julie Payette was first named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2010 at Rideau Hall by her predecessor, David Johnston.

It was Vancouver welder and public sector employee Giovanni Cormano that first filed the request to drop Payette from the Order of Canada. In his letter to Rideau Hall, he wrote that "Julie Payette has undermined the Order of Canada and what it stands for." "For her to retain this honour would tarnish the achievements of Tommy Douglas, Margaret Atwood, Terry Fox, Kim Campbell, Leonard Cohen and Rick Hansen, to name a few," Cormano wrote in his letter dated Jan. 31, obtained by CBC News.

Cormano cited her pattern of mistreatment at Rideau Hall, the Montreal Science Centre and the Canadian Olympic Committee.

According to the regulations, the Order of Canada can be revoked if a member "constitutes a significant departure from generally-recognized standards of public behaviour which is seen to undermine the credibility, integrity or relevance of the order, or detracts from the original grounds upon which the appointment was based." "The reputation of the Canadian Honours System is at the heart of our mandate," retired Brig.-Gen. Marc Thériault, deputy secretary of honours, said on June 4.

"I confirm that the process is following its due course ... The review of your request may take several months to be completed ... you will be advised in writing should your request be rejected at any stage of the procedure." However, when asked for comment on the request to drop her from the Order of Canada, a spokesperson for Payette declined to comment.

"Right now, her focus is on personal issues and applauding Canada's athletes at the Tokyo Olympics," wrote Lise Boyer, an agent at JP Communications. "Mary Simon's appointment as GG should also rightfully be at the forefront of public attention and Madame Payette has no wish to disrupt that."

"Her reputation really suffered," said Barbara Messamore, a fellow and vice-president of the Institute for the Study of the Crown in Canada. "I don't think we need to take the next step of being vindictive, of pursuing every possible way in which we can punish her for her conduct." She said Payette still deserves recognition for her work as an astronaut.

Carleton University's Philippe Lagassé added that taking back Payette's Order of Canada would be "excessive."

"She wasn't dismissed," he said. "She did bow out of the position. She agreed to resign in the face of workplace harassment allegations. She had to deal with the consequences of that already."

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