Such lèse majesté from the fourth estate last month, as hacks piled on the Rt. Hon. Julie Payette, CC, CMM, COM, CQ, CD, QED, accusing Her Excellency variously of shirking her appointed rounds, leaving countless affiliated charities tugging their forelocks as she prunes them from her patronage dance card, and — quelle horreur! — failing to visit friggin’ Manitoba.
Anonymous Rideau Hall backbiters, previously stuck retailing their disloyal dish on the dyspeptic diva to Trash Magazine, suddenly found they had the ear of the working media.
La Presse displayed special cheek, engaging University of Ottawa constitutional law bore Benoit Pelletier to waggle his eyebrows at Her Excellency’s (ahem!) unconventional living arrangements.
As it transpires, Julie currently cohabits 7 Rideau Gate with Assunta Di Lorenzo, her longtime galpal, who she tapped to be Secretary to the Governor General, despite her irrelevant experience as a corporate legalist.
In addition to installing her old school chum in the sumptuous DM-level post (salary range: $192,600-$226,500), she also created the new position of associate secretary. For that gig, she seconded Heritage bureaucrat Marie-Geneviève Mounier to ease Assunta’s administrative burdens and give the gals more time to hit the gym together at the Chateau Laurier.
“Ça n’a pas l’air habituel du tout,” pronounced perfesser Pelletier of the girls’ eight-month, taxpayer-funded sleepover, a temporary measure, bien sûr, until Julie can move into Rideau Hall and Assunta can secure suitable accommodation of her own.
Frank knows what you’re thinking, and shame on you. Ludicrous rumours that taxpayers are shelling out $200K for a vice-regal consort have, alas, not been allayed in the slightest by the Garbo-General’s pronounced secrecy in all things. Even cleaning staff tasked with picking up Di Lorenzo’s and Payette’s undersilks at Rideau Gate are escorted by security whilst they clean.
I am informed, however, that Julie’s weekend toots to Montreal, a source of much bitching (and overtime) for her RCMP minders, are in aid of visits with a boyfriend resident there, whose name escapes. He lives with another woman, it’s complicated, etc.
So irresponsible has all this speculation become that Her Excellency was obliged to make room in her busy schedule for a sit-down with CTV pedicurist Lisa LaFlamme. In the event, she complained of the job’s steep learning curve for a simple astronaut with two engineering degrees and a PhD in robotics (“The moment you are announced as Governor General, you become it right away!”) and waved away questions about 2011, her “annus horribilis,” during which she was charged with assaulting then-hubby Billie Flynn and, whoopsie, killed a pedestrian with her SUV (“It’s behind me. I’ve moved forward. I’m an optimist.”)
Payette’s top takeaway after a year of riding the red carpet? “Communicate better. And the team behind me is doing just that.” (Check out our new website, follow us on social media, etc.)
Which is passing odd, considering the G-G’s team was joined this spring by button-lipped Brig. Gen. Marc Theriault, the ex-DND flack who achieved the highest rank possible for a military spokesliar in a career of scrupulously dodging media inquiries, and indeed any significant contact with actual reporters. He was CDS Jon Vance‘s point man on his “weaponization of public affairs” scheme, which, despite its wetworkish title, was all about more effective communication with the public (shurely ‘withholding as much info as possible while isolating and discrediting critical media hacks?!’–ed.)
Still, Her Excellency’s aspirations on the public relations front are well-placed. Among the many charities she blew off this year was the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, which held its 100th anniversary shindig at the Canadian War Museum in March. In her stead, she sent the leading organization for the visually impaired…a video.