Astrophysicist now interim leader of Canada's Green Party

The Greens have nominated a non-secondary astronomer as their party leader.

Amita Kuttner, a black hole expert, was elected Wednesday by the Greens’ Federal Council to lead the party until a new leader is elected next year.

Kuttner, 30, will be the youngest and first-born and the first born in East Asia to lead a federal party.

Paul Manly, a former MP who lost his seat to British Columbia in the September election, walked out on Wednesday in a leadership election.

His departure from the race in a letter to the council surprised Greens’ chief, who led him to think that he could run for office to lead the party forever.

Manly, who was assisted by former president Elizabeth May, said he was currently “working on other projects” in his area.

Kuttner, who stood against Annamie Paul over Green’s leadership last year, has been a vocal advocate for action against floods and climate change. Their mother was killed and their father was seriously injured in a 2005 mudslide after their North Vancouver home was demolished.

Kuttner runs the Moonlight Institute, a nonprofit organization that explores ways to adapt to climate change. He acted as a scientific and innovative critic of the Green party and joined them as a candidate in BC after he rallied in Burnaby-North Seymour in the 2019 federal elections.

The permanent leader will remain in office for six months before the appointment of a full-time leader to replace Paul, who resigned as Green leader earlier this month.

Paul said leading the Greens was the most difficult time of his life and he gave up his membership.

Astronomer Amita Kuttner has been named the permanent leader of #GreenParty Canada. #CDNpoli

The party has been embroiled in controversy over the past year and has seen its support drop in the election, returning two MPs but losing a significant portion of the popular vote.

Kuttner will face the task of trying to reconcile the divisive party, which also has financial problems.

In his remarks, Mr Kuttner said he was “honored to have been elected … at this time of transformation and reorganization.”

“I take on this responsibility and I am fully aware of the magnitude of the challenges we are facing but I hope we will overcome them and remain strong, cohesive and confident of our important role in the political arena,” he said.

Federal Council President Lorraine Rekmans said her election was “an important step in rebuilding our party” and would help the Greens “rebuild.”

“Amita has the political and social skills that enable them to lead our party in the process of reform, to help reconnect with our membership, to make changes in our affiliate, diversity, and party affiliations, and to prepare for the next leadership contest,” Rekmans said.

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

“It seems we are welcoming the people on their first day in Parliament by refusing to speak. Clearly, public representation is not necessary for some MPs,” he said on Twitter.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2021.

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