The outgoing Green leader has written to every party member with a personal plea to end internal “power struggles” and rally behind the new leader who takes the helm of the party this weekend.
Amita Kuttner, who steps down as interim leader this Saturday, has called for the party to “professionalize” and “grow up,” saying the party must “collectively reset” if it is to make political gains on a national stage.
In an interview with The Globe and Mail, they said the party was no longer “a non-profit organization that advocates for certain issues” and needed internal reforms to support the leader and the party’s two MPs. It also needed a deeper understanding of “how the public views us.”
“We operate differently from other parties. Still, we must recognize the political reality that we only hold mindshare with the public if we have a well-supported leader and caucus,” they wrote to members.
The 31-year-old astrophysicist from Vancouver, who identifies as non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, was appointed interim leader a year ago after Annamie Paul resigned after less than a year in the job, saying leading the Greens had been the worst period of her life.
Dr. Kuttner told The Globe that the party must rally behind their successor who “is going to be the face of the party and the person who carries it into the next era. So we owe them our support, our dedication and respect.”
They said the internal problems besetting the Greens were surmountable as the party was generally united. There were just a few people in the party who were “difficult.”
Dr. Kuttner admitted to spending a lot of time dealing with “microaggressions” from party officials, including being told to put in a funding request to the federal party to buy a plane ticket to Ottawa to attend an official event. They also discovered that key staff – including the party’s head of communications – had been suddenly fired without their knowledge.
“The word that I would want to use has always been childish but I feel … that children are more mature than that,” they said. “But I would call it unprofessional.”
However, they said leading the Greens had been overall a “wonderful” experience, and was full of praise for party members they met while touring the country. “The experience I had this year has been the most beautiful so far in my life. It has been very good and very bad in different ways.”
In September, Dr. Kuttner was identified at a virtual launch of the party leadership contest by a caption with the pronouns “she/elle.”
In a statement, they condemned the “misgendering,” saying it “made me feel hurt and isolated,” suggesting it was “reflective of a larger pattern of behaviours that a few in the party are perpetuating.”
The incident prompted a letter signed by several leadership candidates, and Elizabeth May and Mike Morrice, the party’s MPs, calling for a “restorative process” to root out “harassment” within the Greens. “The Sept. 3 incident was but the latest in a number of similar behavioural patterns that Dr. Kuttner has faced throughout their tenure,” the letter said.
The party returned just two MPs to Ottawa at the federal election, including Ms. May who has thrown her hat in the ring to reclaim the leadership of the Greens, this time on a joint ticket with Jonathan Pedneault, an expert in crisis situations.