Global Affairs Canada mismanaged executive who berated, slapped staff: commissioner

Berated, slapped staff

The watchdog for the federal public service has ruled that Global Affairs Canada committed "gross mismanagement" in the way it dealt with complaints about a senior employee accused of throwing objects, mocking colleagues and even pushing and slapping someone.

The report from Joe Friday, the public sector integrity commissioner, tabled in Parliament Thursday said an earlier internal investigation by the department also found the executive director yelled in the workplace and once introduced a team member as a "terrorist colleague."

The report concluded the department mishandled its response to the complaints, including by promising an action plan that was never put into place.

It said Global Affairs Canada promoted the executive, despite continued insults against staff, including comments about someone's weight and once referring to a training session as a "concentration camp" while speaking with a Jewish colleague.

The report said the executive testified during the investigation by the public sector integrity commissioner that she took the earlier findings seriously and was working hard to change, but the probe examined evidence suggesting the behaviour had continued.

The executive could not be reached for comment Thursday, and a man who answered the phone at her home said she is out of the country.

Global Affairs Canada responded to the report by saying it will launch a fresh disciplinary process, assess the work climate in the branch involved and reinforce ethics training.

"We are committed to working diligently to implement the recommendations that will assist in improving workplace health and well-being," spokeswoman Anabel Lindblad wrote Thursday.

She said that means making sure staff undergo mandatory training and that follow policies on respect, whether they're in Canada or abroad.

"Global Affairs Canada strives to create a culture that protects psychological health, safety and well-being in all aspects of the workplace through collaboration, inclusivity and respect. That includes avoiding hateful and antisemitic comments in all circumstances."

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