Amita Kuttner says party must end infighting and focus on environmental issues

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

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

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

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

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Kuttner admitted that some internal party policies had been “very mean” and that a small minority of party members “forgot to treat each other like full humans. ‘they are “.

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

“I wish people knew I don’t mind if you mess up my pronouns.” I just want you to recognize me as a human, a person, an individual who deserves respect and dignity, ”Kuttner said. They said they are also currently undergoing medical procedures related to the transition.

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Kuttner said understanding why people were angry and what motivated them was key to resolving conflict, as well as a “willingness to come forward to learn.” They said being so passionate about the threats facing the planet could affect people’s prospects.

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

“We’re all in the same boat 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 resigned as leader. Paul, who is black and Jewish, described her time in the job, when she was the target of vitriol and said she faced racist and sexist charges within the party, as the worst time of her life.

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Kuttner said they are resilient.

“Everything that’s happened in the past year and how everyone is feeling about the party – the healing is a big part of it,” they said.

As a 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 code of conduct so that Green members are not immediately kicked out, but made aware of the differences and how to respect them.

“People say the party as an organization is not responsible for random members with horrible opinions and willing to hurt people, but in the end they are,” Kuttner added.

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

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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 that they “would approach things differently depending on my age, gender and race.”

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

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

The new acting leader 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 that doesn’t mean I won’t make mistakes,” they said.

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

Kuttner said they believed that over the next few 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 (hundred years) and that means having a way of life that is actually, quite literally, sustainable.”

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

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