OTTAWA: They didn’t necessarily want the job. However, they requested. And now Amita Kuttner is acting leader of the troubled and divided Green Party of Canada.
An astrophysicist from British Columbia, Kuttner is the first leader of a mainstream federal party that is trans. They are also the first leader of Asian descent in federal politics.
Just two weeks ago, Kuttner told the Star that the acting leader role is “a terrible job.” But on Wednesday night, they were selected from a pool of applicants to take over a federal party that is fractured by months of unrest and accusations of racism and poor leadership that led to the bitter resignation of Toronto attorney Annamie Paul. who led the party. for just one year.
The Star spoke to Kuttner by phone Thursday about his historic appointment and how they believe the Greens can bounce back.
The star: you have already expressed concerns on transphobia and other forms of discrimination in the party. You told me the other day that you weren’t even sure you wanted this job. Now that you are acting leader, how do you feel?
Kuttner: It was a bit overwhelming personally because I think I broke several roofs. Actually, I’m not always comfortable with a focus on my identity, but it happened. That is a lot of excitement.
In terms of my history with the party … it’s real – transphobia is real, racism is real, discrimination is absolutely clear. But it’s not the majority of the party … So my experience with the hate I received: I didn’t have the feeling that people were willing to hurt me, but that they came from a place of serious lack of knowledge and understanding. … I believe that what we can and what we must achieve together is far more important than any of these disagreements.
As you say, you are breaking ceilings. What does that mean to you?
It is an honor that I look forward to being prepared to bring… Performance is incredibly important. It also opens up a lot of discussion (about) your identity. Someone already asked me on the radio: “Well, how were you born?”
I hope we can really focus on my lived experience and what it means to have this perspective to change the political conversation.
There are different opinions on what happened last year, blaming Paul for his leadership style or saying there was racism within the party. What lessons are you bringing to this new role from this difficult period for the party?
As happens many times in interpersonal conflicts, everyone’s vision is true to themselves. Your own perception of it is real. The truth lies somewhere in the nebula between the perceptions of reality. And I don’t know if we are going to find it, or are we supposed to, or if it is necessary to generate a sense of reason, justice and security again.
My understanding of last year’s struggle almost boils down to this vision of power centralized in the leader versus the vision of power diffused through the grassroots… What is your sense of what power should be like in the Green Party?
What I think is important is that everyone agrees with that arrangement, and it is clearly stated, which has not been the case. And I think that’s the core of a lot of the disagreements.
I prefer to work in a group. But to have a group that you can work with, you need to have the fundamental trust, and that has not existed.
What are your priorities to get the party back on track?
Make the leadership contest well run, get rid of the setbacks we faced last time, and also make it as equitable as possible. … Other than that, the fundraising is very immediate. And the unifying and healing process is there.
Personally, I also want to support the caucus. For me, the party, who we are, is actually what we do in the Chamber. That is what we carry and we can promise people when we offer them a Green MP.
What do you think the party needs in its next standard bearer to succeed it as its elected leader?
I believe that someone who is an excellent communicator, both internally and externally, will be essential.
What makes the Green Party unique in the end is not the fact that we have climate policies, it is because we have a different approach to governance and politics … We need to focus on climate policy, but it must be so clear that in Every policy we talk about, we are solving the climate emergency.
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