Amita Kuttner: ‘We desperately need science in government at the top level right now’

By Scott Costen

AMITA Kuttner is happy to discuss leadership style.

In fact, the candidate to replace Elizabeth May wishes more people would quiz Green Party of Canada (GPC) leadership hopefuls about their management approaches.

“I actually think it’s the most important question for the leadership race and it’s not getting asked enough,” Kuttner told Redaction Politics. “I think my leadership style is one of collaboration, consensus, openness, compassion and clear communication.”

A mixed-race, non-binary candidate who uses they/them pronouns, Kuttner doesn’t want their identity to be a focal point in the Green leadership contest.

“I’m not a fan of identity politics, so I’m not particularly focusing on it,” they said. “I do think, though, that it’s important to have representation, so I’m honoured to hold this space and to show that it’s possible to be here.”

What Kuttner would rather discuss is their academic and professional background and the policy platform they developed in collaboration with a team of more than 30 people.

Kuttner, who holds a PhD in astronomy and astrophysics, lives off-grid on Lasqueti Island in the Strait of Georgia, the body of water that separates mainland British Columbia from Vancouver Island.

They recently founded moonlight institute, a research-driven organization dedicated to “filling policy gaps, communications gaps, and supporting community projects that will actually help us get a sustainable, just and resilient future.”

Kuttner was the federal Green candidate in the British Columbia riding of Burnaby-North Seymour last year, garnering 9.6 per cent of the vote for a fourth-place finish.

“It was tough in some ways,” they said of campaigning. “It was absolutely amazing in others.”

In addition to representing the GPC as a candidate, Kuttner has also served in the party’s shadow cabinet as the science and innovation critic.

“I truly feel like I am here out of necessity and by the encouragement of a lot of people who’ve said I’m the right person to do it,” they said about throwing their hat in the ring. “So, I’m taking it on more as a responsibility than a desire.”

Kuttner told Redaction Politics their candidacy is “right for this particular moment” and reflects a yearning “to be impactful, to help people, to alleviate suffering, to create a world where we can really flourish.”

Suffering is something the candidate knows all too well. In 2005, a mud slide destroyed their family’s North Vancouver home, killing Kuttner’s mother and seriously injuring their father.

Kuttner said that lived experience, along with their scientific background, makes them a unique candidate in the race.

“We desperately need science in government at the top level right now,” they said.

Politically, Kuttner said they are “quite left,” but also “quite far to the libertarian side” of the spectrum.

“It’s about making sure that everybody has their needs met, everybody has their rights protected and they also have their own freedom and personal liberty,” they said.

Kuttner’s left libertarianism means they would not entertain a merger of the GPC with the more “authoritarian” NDP.

“I agree with a lot of their policies, but I don’t agree with their philosophy of governance,” Kuttner said. “I think what makes the Green Party really special is our commitment to freedom and representative democracy.”

Kuttner’s objectives include working with Indigenous nations to restore self-governance on their terms, eliminating the causes of crime so police and prisons can be abolished, and implementing a wide range of electoral reforms including proportional representation.

On foreign affairs, Kuttner said they would place renewed focus on human rights and make “a clear distinction between the people of a country and the government of that country.”

Cancelling arms exports, particularly to Saudi Arabia, would be another priority. “We should not be selling weapons to other countries, especially not one that has a human rights record like that,” they said.

Another international objective is Canadian participation in a United Nations response force tasked with, among other things, environmental restoration. “It comes from a place of thinking that we need global leadership and collaboration to deal with the climate crisis,” Kuttner said.

“All our policy development was always coming back to our values and going through the process of saying we want to advance justice, we want to follow evidence and we want to be prepared for the future,” they said.

Featured Image: Amita Kuttner campaign

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