Amita Kuttner is the first trans person to lead a Canadian political party. Can they save the Greens?

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OTTAWA—they didn’t necessarily want the job. Still he applied. And now, Amita Kuttner is the interim leader of Canada’s troubled and divided Green Party.

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An astrophysicist from British Columbia, Kuttner is the first leader of a mainstream federalist party to be trans. He is also the first leader of Asian descent in federal politics.

Just two weeks ago, Kuttner told Starr that the role of interim leader is “a terrible job.” But on Wednesday night, he was chosen from a pool of applicants to take over a federal party, fractured by months of turmoil and allegations of racism and poor leadership, which led Toronto lawyer Annami Paul to lead the party. did. For barely a year.


The star spoke to Kutner on the phone Thursday about his historic appointment — and how he thinks the Greens can recover.

Star: You’ve Done Before expressed concern About transphobia and other forms of discrimination in the party. You told me that day that you weren’t sure if you even wanted this job. Now that you are interim leader, how do you feel?

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Kuttner: It’s personally been a little overwhelming because I feel like I’ve broken a lot of boundaries. I’m not always comfortable really focusing on my identity, but it happened. It’s a lot of emotion.

In terms of my history with the party… it’s real – transphobia is real, racism is real, discrimination is absolutely clear. But this is not the majority of the party… hence my experience with the hate I got – I didn’t feel like people were out to hurt me, but rather were coming from a place of serious lack of knowledge and understanding. … I think that what we can do and what we need to accomplish together is far more important than any of these disagreements.

As you say, you’re breaking the roof. What does that mean to you?

It is an honor that I hope I am ready to move on… representation is incredibly important. It also opens you up to a lot of discussion about (about) your identity. Someone already asked me on the radio: “Well, what were you born as?”

I hope we can really focus on our own life experience and what it means to change the political conversation of this perspective.

There are differing views on what happened over the past year, blaming Paul for his leadership style or accusing him of being racism within the party. What lessons are you bringing to this new role from this difficult phase for the party?

As is often the case with interpersonal conflict, everyone’s view of it is true in itself. His own perception about it is genuine. Truth lies somewhere in the nebula between notions of reality. And I don’t know if we’re going to find it, or supposedly, or if it’s necessary to bring back logic and a sense of justice and security.

My understanding of the struggle over the past year, it almost comes down to this vision of centralized power in the leader versus this vision of grassroots power… about what kind of power the Green Party should have. What is your understanding?

I think what is important is that everyone agrees to that arrangement, and that it is clearly laid out, which is not the case. And I think that’s the root of a lot of disagreement.

I would prefer to work in a group instead. But to build a group that you can work with, you have to have a fundamental belief, and that hasn’t been the case.

What are your priorities to get the party back on track?

Running the leadership competition well, getting rid of the hurdles faced in the past and making it as equitable as possible. …Plus, fundraising is very immediate. And there’s the integration and healing process.

Personally, I also really want to support the caucus. Party for me, who we are, really what we do in the House. That’s what we do when we are offering them Green MP and are able to promise people.

What do you think the party needs in its next standard-bearer to succeed you as an elected leader?

I think someone who is an excellent communicator, both internally and externally, is going to be essential.

In the end what makes the Green Party unique isn’t the fact that we have climate policies in place, it’s because we have a different approach to governance and politics… we need to focus on climate policy, but It should be so clear that in every single policy we talk about, we are solving the climate emergency.

Alex Ballingle is an Ottawa-based reporter who covers federal politics for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @aballinga
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