Entitled to Respect
Respect from and for others is a basic requirement that everyone must observe—even those in high office
By Wayne Prins, Executive Director
I’ve been intrigued by the ongoing news stories over the past year about the toxic work environment at Rideau Hall. Governor General Julie Payette, as qualified as she may have been to hold the honoured office, was accused of treating people badly, in some cases reducing staff to tears from verbal abuse and bizarre antics.
The government ordered an independent investigation to determine whether the complaints had merit. For months the country waited for a verdict, and the verdict came recently: guilty as charged!
The investigation revealed that the complaints of abuse and bad treatment were, in fact, true. Within hours, the governor general took the extraordinary decision to resign from one of the most honoured jobs in the country.
A national hero stands disgraced by her overwhelming sense of superiority and disregard for other humans.
There are many story lines to draw from this event, but for me the most compelling theme is the transcendent entitlement to respect. In centuries past, it may have been acceptable for working class folk to be subjected to bad treatment from those of higher status. But this certainly isn’t acceptable anymore!
I won’t celebrate the former governor general’s self-inflicted misery. I lament the fact that she has probably been subjected to harsher criticism than she deserves. But I most certainly celebrate the fact that the human entitlement to respect has won the day.
CLAC’s approach to labour relations is based on mutual respect, which is rooted in our belief that all people are created equal—full stop.
The shameful end of our governor general’s term demonstrates that whether you’re the Queen’s representative or you’re a boss of a company or you’re a low-wage worker, respect from and for others is a basic requirement that everyone must observe. And where respect is not given, a suitable consequence is in order.