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Non-binary astrophysicist joins Green Party of Canada leadership race

Last Updated Mar 10, 2020 at 9:21 am PDT

Amita Kuttner (Courtesy amitakuttner.ca)
Summary

29-year-old with a PhD wants Greens to have more evidence-based policy

Kuttner would be first non-binary leader of a Canadian party

Greens must decolonize, restructure their party: Kuttner

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A young astrophysicist from North Vancouver is jumping into the race to lead the Green Party of Canada.

Amita Kuttner, who ran for the Greens and came fourth in Burnaby North-Seymour in 2019, is the latest to jump into the race to replace the party’s longtime head, Elizabeth May.

The 29-year-old Kuttner, holds a PhD in astronomy and astrophysics from the University of California and hopes to bring an evidence-based approach to policy – something Kuttner said the party has lacked at times.

The Green Party platform has included unscientific suspicion of genetically modified foods and wireless technology, Kuttner said.

“We need to make sure we don’t have any room for criticism when it comes to credibility on evidence,” the leadership candidate said. “Our official platform has always been science-based. But if we read the policy book, there’s stuff that needs ironing out.”

If elected, Kuttner (who uses they/them pronouns) would be the first gender non-binary person to lead a major Canadian party and the second person of colour to do so, after Jagmeet Singh took the reins of the NDP in 2017.

Kuttner said they are “not a huge fan of identity politics,” but said they will bring a much-needed perspective on gender equity issues that comes from outside the traditional binary of men and women.

With both English and Hong Kong heritage, Kuttner was one of only a few non-white candidates on the Green Party slate in 2019. People of colour comprised 12 per cent of Green candidates last year, according to one survey.

“It was interesting being in a party that was very white,” Kuttner said, adding that the party must do more than increase diversity among its candidates.

The Greens must work to restructure and decolonize their party to make it more inclusive, they said.

Kuttner said they are “very much socially left,” but prefer to eschew other labels on their politics.

“Much like with my gender, I get annoyed with labels because I feel like it alienates people. If you say you’re a socialist or if you say you’re capitalist, people attach assumptions with those words. So I do have an issue with that,” Kuttner said.

The Greens will choose a new leader on Oct. 4 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. David Merner, Alex Tyrell, Judy Green, Julie Tremblay-Cloutier and Annamie Paul are also running for the leadership.

Kuttner’s leadership race website lists a number of “endorsements” from prominent Green Party members, including Vancouver councillor Pete Fry and MLA and BC Green Party leadership contestant Sonia Furstenau, who also names Paul in her endorsement statement.

Fry confirmed to NEWS 1130 that he has endorsed Kuttner.

Furstenau’s leadership co-campaign manager said the MLA was “providing a soft endorsement of Amita’s candidacy and is also supportive of Annamie Paul’s candidacy. Basically, Sonia’s position is that it’s really positive that both of them are running.”