‘I want to help’: Temporary Green Leader Amita Kuttner’s many journeys

As a federal party leader, Kuttner is now the most high-profile transpolitic politician in Canada, taking on the task while undergoing a physical transition process.

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Amita Kuttner is facing what may be one of the toughest jobs in Canadian politics right now – uniting the federal Green Party after months of internal strife that caused party support to fall in the recent federal election.

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Kuttner is an astrophysicist with a PhD from the University of California. At 30 years old, Kuttner is the youngest person and the first person of East Asian descent to lead a national political party – as well as the first trans person to do so.

The party’s decline in dissolution was “painful for me to see,” the new interim green leader told reporters at a news conference on Parliament Hill on Wednesday, a week after the new job.

So why step forward? “I think it comes down to the fact that I want to help,” Kuttner said in an interview. “It was a difficult year for many people in the party, and I believe that the party is important. It’s all the work we do and we can do. “

Kuttner, who is trans and non-binary and uses the pronouns they / they say, says the transphobia they faced in the leadership race came from a “very small group of loud people” whose reaction was sometimes based on ignorance. .

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“But the thing is, it’s not something that’s unique to the party at all, but something that just exists in society.”

As a federal party leader, Kuttner is now the most high-profile transpolitic politician in Canada, taking on the task while undergoing a physical transition process. It puts the new leader in the public spotlight at a time when Kuttner wants to “cocoon.”

Taking on the management “has not given me that opportunity. But I also think it’s great and a kind of … service to show people how it actually is. And I’m going to change physically during the next six months. ”

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Kuttner would prefer to “focus on the policies and what the party can accomplish” rather than questions of identity – but acknowledges that “it is a learning experience for many people who have never encountered it.”

There will be a lot to focus on when it comes to the upcoming task. After a public disagreement in the spring with the then Green MP Jenica Atwin, who then jumped off to the Liberals, former leader Annamie Paul managed to avert a leadership challenge ahead of this summer’s federal election.

But after she failed to win her own Toronto Center in an election in which the Greens actually had no national campaign due to lack of funds, Paul resigned as leader of the party. The Greens got 2.33 percent of the popular vote in the election on September 20, compared to 6.55 percent in 2019.

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Kuttner plans to start the job by listening. “I’m trying to sense the system, I’m trying to understand what the party is like, how everyone is feeling,” they told the news conference.

“My role, I hope, is to re-consolidate with everyone in the party, to start the process of regrowth, to make sure to heal, to make sure we raise money, and also to make sure that we run a good leadership competition. ”

That race for the next permanent leader should start within six months, and Kuttner currently has no plans to run. “Interim is more appealing to me because I think the pressure is different and a lot of what I want to do is work hard with the organization. And that is what I have the opportunity to do here. ”

It is a learning experience for many people

Kuttner opened Wednesday’s press conference by outlining the party’s priorities for the parliamentary session.

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“When we see the climate disasters rolling out across the country, from my home in BC and now also out to the east, there is nothing more in mind than an immediate response to the climate crisis,” they said. “That said, climate policy is all politics, and all politics can be climate politics,” and that means the party will also focus on issues like housing and health and mental health.

Former leader Elizabeth May continues as the party’s parliamentary leader. On Wednesday, May called on the federal government to treat the atmospheric rivers that have led to flooding and loss of homes and lives in BC as an emergency and to address environmental issues.

Kuttner has a painful personal connection to the disasters that are going on in BC. Kuttner’s mother was killed and their father was seriously injured in a mudslide in the province in 2005. “When I have to go through it all, I just want no one else to do it. Go through it,” they said.

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“For me, to have lost my mother, to make my father as injured as he is, and to have lost his livelihood from this … the only possible positive result is to alleviate future suffering of a similar nature.”

This means that the federal government must not only step up with resources to clean up and rebuild, as well as mental health, but also invest with “an actual preparation plan.”

“We need a full-scale and also detailed national action plan for each community that the federal government should have a massive hand in supporting and also creating.”

Kuttner said experience of personal tragedy and trauma gives them a different view of government and a “relationship with people who have suffered.”
Being open and vulnerable around their transition and family history is “not easy,” Kuttner acknowledged. “It’s not easy for me to put myself in this situation.”

“We have a responsibility to people to get on the same page. Because this is about people losing their lives in their homes,” they said. “I hope that by being vulnerable, by putting myself on a confident way … that it can help inspire us on that journey. “

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