PAYETTE’S PAST:

Trudeau faces heat af­ter as­sault charge comes to light on choice for next gover­nor gen­eral

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - JOR­DAN PRESS OT­TAWA —

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau is re­fus­ing to say what he knew — and when he knew it — about a dis­missed, non-felony charge against his choice for Gover­nor Gen­eral.

Julie Payette is call­ing the six-year-old in­ci­dent a case of an “un­founded” al­le­ga­tion for which she was “im­me­di­ately cleared” with­out any pros­e­cu­tion.

The sec­ond-de­gree as­sault charge doesn’t ap­pear in Mary­land court records, but is ac­ces­si­ble through Amer­i­can-based back­ground check web­sites that pro­vide the charge, dates, case num­ber, lo­ca­tion and rea­son for its dis­missal. No fur­ther de­tails are pro­vided about the rea­sons for the charge.

The in­ci­dent, first re­ported by the po­lit­i­cal news web­site iPol­i­tics, has raised ques­tions about whether Trudeau knew about the po­ten­tially em­bar­rass­ing in­for­ma­tion dur­ing the se­lec­tion process that took place be­hind closed doors in the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice.

And if he did know, why he didn’t see it as an is­sue to­ward mak­ing Payette the next vicere­gal.

Trudeau twice said Wednes­day he had no com­ment when asked about the deleted charge against Payette.

He said that be­fore any ap­point­ment to such a high-pro­file po­lit­i­cal post, the gov­ern­ment con­ducts a thor­ough back­ground search on the can­di­date’s past. Trudeau wouldn’t say if he had been made aware of the in­ci­dent prior to her ap­point­ment.

“I know that Mme. Payette is go­ing to make an ex­tra­or­di­nary gover­nor gen­eral. She rep­re­sents the very best of Cana­dian val­ues, open­ness to the world, cu­rios­ity, in­tel­lec­tual rigour and in­spi­ra­tion,” Trudeau said at an event in Que­bec City.

In a state­ment is­sued through Rideau Hall, Payette de­clined to com­ment on “these un­founded charges.”

On­line records don’t de­tail what led to the charge. At the time, Payette was liv­ing with her then hus­band Wil­liam “Bil­lie” Flynn, a re­tired Air Force pi­lot who now is a Lock­heed Martin test pi­lot for the F-35 fighter jet.

Payette and Flynn went through lengthy di­vorce pro­ceed­ings that closed in late June when Payette with­drew a mo­tion for child sup­port, based on on­line Mary­land court records.

The records also show that a mo­tion to seal the pro­ceed­ings and ac­com­pa­ny­ing af­fi­davits was filed in Mary­land court Tues­day.

FRED CHARTRAND, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau looks on as Gover­nor Gen­eral-des­ig­nate Julie Payette talks to re­porters on Par­lia­ment Hill last week.

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