The Greens have chosen a non-binary astrophysicist as the interim leader of their party.

Amita Kuttner, an expert in black holes, was appointed Wednesday by the Greens' Federal Council to lead the party until a new leader is elected next year.

Kuttner, 30, will be the youngest person 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 British Columbia seat in the September election, withdrew Wednesday from the leadership race.

His withdrawal from the contest in a letter to the council surprised senior Greens, prompting speculation that he may run for election to lead the party permanently.

Manly, who was backed by former leader Elizabeth May, said he was currently "taking on other projects" in his community.

Kuttner, who stood against Annamie Paul for the Green leadership last year, has been a vocal advocate for action to address flooding and climate change. Their mother was killed and their father severely injured in a mudslide in 2005 after their North Vancouver home was crushed.

Kuttner runs the Moonlight Institute, a non-profit that explores ways to adapt to the climate crisis. They have served as the Green party’s science and innovation critic and ran as a candidate in the B.C. riding of Burnaby-North Seymour in the 2019 federal election.

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

Paul said leading the Greens had been the worst period of her life and has handed in her party membership.

Astrophysicist Amita Kuttner chosen as interim leader of #GreenParty of Canada. #CDNPoli

The party has been beset by infighting over the past year and saw its support plummet in the election, returning two MPs but losing a significant share of the popular vote.

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

In a statement, Kuttner said they were "honoured to have been selected ... during this time of transition and renewal."

“I take on this responsibility fully aware of the magnitude of the challenges we are facing but convinced that we will overcome them and emerge stronger, more united and more confident about our vital role in national politics," they said.

Federal Council President Lorraine Rekmans said their selection was "an important step forward in reinvigorating our party" and would help the Greens "rebuild."

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

Kuttner spoke out this week after Mike Morrice, the newly-elected Green MP, was not given permission 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. Clearly, representation for all people is not important to some MPs," they said on Twitter.

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

Updates and corrections

| Corrections policy
November 29, 2021, 09:20 pm

This article has been updated to include a photo of Amita Kuttner.

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"They" are hilarious. We are most amused.

You however are not in the least amusing. More like oh I don't know, smug? In need of perspective and education and awareness? How about commenting on what is important and not about your parochial notions that you maintain because a) they were given to you, and 2) you fail to grasp a larger view and are stuck in your little world watching the shadows on the cave wall.

I think you need to allow for more of a learning curve here. "They" brings to mind a grouping of two or more people; it's a basic language norm, therefore an embedded, elemental perception, so using it to describe one person unavoidably presenting in one body is beyond awkward, it also denotes a deep defensiveness that "engenders" unnnecessary alienation.
Isn't such profound counter-intuitiveness also bound to be counter-productive when introducing what is actually an exciting new concept, a new dimension of what constitutes human? Even when one feels so exceedingly singular as to be utterly insulted by the binary convention, wouldn't "he/she" simply make more sense in paving the way to what could truly be a brave, new world?

The creation of ambiguous pronouns in content that is already often heavy for the average reader is my main objection to the use of a plural pronoun for a single person. Language changes with time and usage as all of us who've read any Chaucer or Shakespeare should know.

But I notice in this article that the new Green leader refers to 'theirself' as "I" in one quote....so why we have to further butcher the English language to constantly defer to difference puzzles me. If they can sometimes be I, why not allow the same latitude for others with other language fluencies.

Worrying about whether you are inadvertently insulting someone, while trying to engage in conversations of vital importance to our survival seems the essence of pettiness to me....kind of like creating 'event horizons' before entering the black hole extinction is tempting us toward. Let's try to laugh it off.....a love of difference is an open love....it doesn't sweat the small stuff.

Singular "they" has actually existed in English for some time. Not as the main usage, obviously, but it's been there.
All the complaints about "they" remind me of all the complaints about various non-male-centric speech back in the days of second wave feminism. People got over that and they'll get over this.

Have to confess I know of no places where 'they' has referred to the singular......for a long time in English.
English literature is my specialty...I taught writing for years........so I'd really appreciate it if you'd forward me some links to this 'they' used as a singular.

I cite the above article as using "they" as singular. I suspect you are using history to prevent respecting people's identity.
And if English literature is your specialty, you know that language is dynamic, not static.

Hi all, thanks very much for reading this article! It’s great to see folks talking about this news from the Greens. But I want to note that whatever your views on Amita Kuttner’s experience, past work, etc., their gender — and their pronouns — are not really up for debate. We want this to be a space for everyone in our CNO community to take part in important conversations, and that means making sure we respect all facets of a person’s identity — from gender to race to sexuality and so on. At CNO, we adhere to CP style, which encourages reporters to follow the lead of the person they’re writing about when it comes to pronouns. We also take cues from the Trans Journalists Association, which has more in-depth guidance on respectful coverage of trans people and communities: https://transjournalists.org/style-guide/ . We may not get it right every time, but we strive to make this a forum where everyone is welcome. I hope you’ll join us in building a thoughtful and inclusive CNO community.

Congratulations to Amita. Very few scientists are willing to enter the cutthroat political arena in any role.

Well, I guess trying to get the Green party into serious contention IS rocket science . . .

It's not so much the physical youth as political youth (inexperience) that has one hoping this is temporary indeed. There are always Cinderella stories, but absent some acceptance speech that rocks the nation, most stories are not.

Oh for heaven's sakes, people!!! Nitpicking like this over such a trifling issue as wording keeps everyone in a cave!!! Amita Kuttner is a force to be reconed with, as she proved while running in the federal election - I think in 2019..? - when she campaigned in Burnaby/North. As long as we continue to pass the microphone here in this country - until we get P R installed - all voices and expert opinions MUST be welcomed!!
Thank you.

But haven't you rather cavalierly referred to her as "she" rather than "their?" Words importantly create perception, and this pronoun fetish is simply awkward and offputting, which is probably why you have ignored it, which is the point being made by several here. No one questions this person's credentials.
The left wing generally has rightly been accused of "virtue-signalling" and/or being too precious by half. This is a good example of that.

Perhaps we could all demonstrate tolerance, use the pronouns we're accustomed to (the smaller the change, the harder it is for those over 40 to shift gears) and start tackling the hard issues, the big challenges, together. That's what I'd do if still in the classroom....there was no one appointed 'language police' in our discussions....only abuse was forbidden. So quite quickly, everyone felt safe to participate and things got interesting.

This pronoun fetish is not that.

How hurtful is it that an article about Amita Kuttner becoming the Interim Leader of the Green Party features a photo of Paul Manly?

Shame on the National Observer for posting such shoddy journalism. This article reeks of anti-nonbinaryism in it's structure and presentation.