Amita Kuttner says party needs to stop infighting and focus on environmental issues

OTTAWA – Amita Kuttner, the new interim leader of the Green Party of Canada, says her job is to “heal” the party after months of infighting and conflict.

Kuttner, 30, who identifies as non-binary and transgender, wants to end infighting and get the party back on track before the Greens choose their next leader.

The Vancouver astrophysicist says with flooding and climate change devastating the country, green policies to fix the planet are badly needed.

“This is the exact moment we need a green party, with everything going on in the world,” said Kuttner, who was appointed to the role on Wednesday night.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Kuttner admitted that some of the party’s internal policies had been “very unpleasant” and that a small minority of party members “forgot…to treat themselves like the full human beings that they are.” “.

Kuttner revealed that they had personally been the target of “brutal” transphobia, with members of the Greens not only questioning their pronouns, but also whether they should be considered transgender.

“I would like people to know that I don’t mind you confusing my pronouns. I just want you to recognize me as a human being, a person, an individual who deserves respect and dignity,” Kuttner said. They said they are also currently undergoing transition-related medical procedures.

Kuttner said understanding why people are angry and what drives them is key to resolving conflict, along with a “willingness to show up to learn.” They said being so passionate about threats to the planet could affect people’s outlook.

“My approach to healing is to try to find common ground,” Kuttner said.

“We are all in it because we care about the same things. We are bound by our values ​​and the fact that we care deeply about our community.

Public support for the Greens plummeted in the September 20 election and then Annamie Paul quit as leader. Paul, who is black and Jewish, described her time on the job, when she was the target of vitriol and said she faced racist and sexist accusations within the party, as the worst time in her life. life.

Kuttner said they are resilient.

“Everything that happened in the last year and how everyone feels in the party – the healing is a big part of that,” they said.

As leader, Kuttner said they wanted to “put in place a system…to protect us from internal discrimination and external discrimination.” This could include changing the party’s code of conduct so that Green members aren’t instantly kicked out, but told about the differences and how to respect them.

“People say the party as an organization is not responsible for random members having horrible opinions and being out to hurt people, but ultimately they are,” Kuttner added.

Kuttner said their “general policy approach” was collaborative and “consensual” in getting things done.

Kuttner is the daughter of a Chinese mother from Hong Kong and an English father. They said they were “drawn by multiple cultures and traditions” and would “approach things differently based on my age, gender and race.”

In 2005, Kuttner’s mother was killed and his father seriously injured after a landslide crushed their North Vancouver home.

“I had just turned 14 when I lost my home and my mother,” they said. They said it was “a rift in my life and in my whole neighborhood”.

The new acting chief said they were “committed to learning” in the role.

“Just because I’m marginalized and have multiple identities doesn’t mean I don’t have things to learn and won’t make mistakes,” they said.

Kuttner, a black hole expert, was raised in Vancouver and educated at a boarding school in California. They earned a doctorate in astronomy and astrophysics from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Kuttner said they believe that in the coming centuries, humanity could become an “interstellar species” traveling to distant planets. But to do this, humanity would have to work hard to ensure the survival of planet Earth.

“It’s going to take hundreds of years and if we’re going to get there, we have to survive the next (hundreds of years) and that means having a way of life that is actually, quite literally, sustainable.”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on November 25, 2021.

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