Canadians had to pay over $110,000 for legal representation related to handling harassment and toxic workplace allegations levelled against Governor General Julie Payette by members of her staff.

The figure, which was obtained by the CBC, is larger than the original $88,325 external review contract revealed by the Privy Council Office in September. 

Dozens of staffers who have worked in Rideau Hall alongside Payette have come forward with claims that the governor general was involved in bullying, belittling and humiliating her underlings.

Among those contracted by the governor general was former Supreme Court of Canada justice Michel Bastarache. Bastarache was employed by Payette as a “constitutional adviser” ensuring that any review into the claims would respect constitutional protections afforded to the governor general. He received $36,208 for the job according to Rideau Hall.

The Office of the Secretary to the Governor General (OSGG) also hired a law firm to assist with the review to the tune of $74,500.

“This decision was made due to the fact that the OSGG does not have in-house legal counsel, and as with any process, there were some legal and constitutional questions that required addressing, in order to ensure that there would be no conflict of interest for the PCO Legal Services sector,” said Payette’s secretary Ashlee Smith regarding the hiring of contractors. 

On Wednesday, Payette addressed the hirings on Twitter, saying that “legal service contracts are a normal part of such an exercise.” 

“The OSGG has taken these steps given the circumstances of the review that has been undertaken by PCO and given the critical importance of the independence of the institution and has co-operated fully with the review,” wrote Payette. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has publicly stood by the beleaguered governor general, saying that she was “excellent” in the role and that he had no plans on replacing her for someone else. 

“We have an excellent Governor General right now and I think, on top of the COVID crisis, nobody’s looking at any constitutional crises,” Trudeau told a Vancouver radio station in September. 

“We have put in place a process to review some of the working conditions at Rideau Hall, but that’s not something that we’re contemplating right now, going further than that.”

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