This astrophysicist could become the first non-binary person to lead a major political party in Canada

Amita Kuttner: Non-binary astrophysicist announces leadership bid

A non-binary astrophysicist named Amita Kuttner has announced they’re running to be the next leader of Canada’s Green Party.

Kuttner, who’s from North Vancouver, is the latest candidate to jump into the race to replace the party’s longtime leader, Elizabeth May.

Speaking to Burnaby Now, the 29-year-old, who has a PhD in astronomy and astrophysics from the University of California, said that they are running to be Green Party leader because a “large number of people” encouraged them to do so.

“I fully believe you cannot achieve full equity before you break down the (gender) binary, because along with it goes so many ideas of what gender means, and I think if we just get to a point where people are just people, that is useful,” they said.

Kuttner outlined three pillars that their campaign will be based on.

“I think the first step is to create safe and inclusive spaces, and politics is tough for that. All the parties have got problems in terms of that,” they said, adding the solution goes beyond diversifying the party’s candidate list.

“You can’t just add people and have quotas and then get where you need to go. The work that I’ve done on diversity, I’ve learned that it really is about the space you create.”

The second pillar would be “genuinely evidence-based policy”, which Kuttner may have an upper edge in with a background as an astrophysicist.

“The third (pillar) is making sure that we’re ready for the future, everything that that brings, in terms of crises and breakthroughs, whether it be technology or a catastrophe,” they said, adding they would be applying their scientific lens to developing policies.

“We need to make sure that all our policy is driven by really clear values and principles,” they said.

Kuttner, who ran as the Green Party for Burnaby North-Seymour in 2019, is one of few non-white candidates in the race to replace May.

“It was interesting being in a party that was very white,” Kuttner said when they announced their leadership bid, emphasising that the party must do more than increase diversity among its candidates.

“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,” they added.

Kuttner also says they want to bring a more evidence-based approach to policy into the Green Party.

“We need to make sure we don’t have any room for criticism when it comes to credibility on evidence,” Kuttner said.

“Our official platform has always been science-based. But if we read the policy book, there’s stuff that needs ironing out.”

If they win the Green Party leadership, Amita Kuttner said they are prepared to move anywhere in Canada in order to get a seat in parliament.