Astrophysicist Amita Kuttner chosen as interim leader of the Green Party of Canada

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OTTAWA – The Greens have chosen a non-binary astrophysicist as their party leader.

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Black hole expert Amita Kuttner was appointed on Wednesday by the Federal Council of the Greens to lead the party until a new leader is elected next year.

Kuttner, 30, will be the youngest as well as the first trans person and person of East Asian descent to lead a federal political party.

Paul Manly, the former MP who lost his seat in British Columbia in the September election, withdrew from the leadership contest on Wednesday.

His withdrawal from the competition in a letter to the council surprised the senior Greens, prompting speculation that he could run for office to lead the party permanently.

Manly, who was supported by former leader Elizabeth May, said he is “currently undertaking other projects” in his community.

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Kuttner, who opposed Annamie Paul for green leadership last year, has been a strong advocate for action to tackle floods and climate change. Their mother was killed and their father seriously injured in a mudslide in 2005 after their North Vancouver home was crushed.

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Kuttner heads the Moonlight Institute, a non-profit organization exploring ways to adapt to the climate crisis. They served as the Green Party’s science and innovation critic and ran as candidates in the riding of Burnaby-North Seymour in British Columbia in the 2019 federal election.

The interim leader will be in office for up to six months before a full-time leader can be elected to succeed Paul, who formally stepped down as leader of the Greens earlier this month.

Paul said leading the Greens was the worst time of his life and gave him back his party membership.

The party has been plagued by internal bickering over the past year and has seen its support crumble in the election, sacking two MPs but losing a significant chunk of the popular vote.

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Kuttner will face the task of trying to unite the divided party, which is also plagued by financial problems.

In a statement, Kuttner said they were “honored to have been selected … during this time of transition and renewal.”

“I assume this responsibility fully aware of the magnitude of the challenges we face but convinced that we will overcome them and emerge stronger, more united and more confident in our vital role in national politics,” they said. .

Federal Council President Lorraine Rekmans said their selection was “an important step forward in re-energizing our party” and would help the Greens “rebuild themselves”.

“Amita has the political and life experience that makes them extremely qualified to guide our party through a period of renewal, helping to reconnect with our members, to implement reforms in our approach to equity, diversity and inclusion within the party, and to prepare for the next leadership race, ”said Rekmans.

Kuttner spoke this week after Mike Morrice, the newly elected Green MP, was not allowed to speak in a debate on Monday, the first day of the parliamentary session.

“Apparently we welcome people to their first day in the House of Commons by refusing to let them speak. Obviously, the representation of all is not important for some MPs, ”they said on Twitter.

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