After an interesting year for the Green Party of Canada, interim leader Amita Kuttner visited Campbell River as part of their Reconnection Tour.
Last year was marked by struggle and change for the party. One of the party’s MPs Jenica Atwin crossed the floor to join the Liberal caucus, the party did not see the electoral result it was hoping for in the 2021 election and the party was facing financial trouble at the end of 2021. However, Kuttner said that the tour was “about re-connection. In every way that we can imagine re-connection at this point.
“The party obviously had a rough year, so we need to reconnect with each other, for the membership and also the party with the members, reset our foundation and get going again,” they said. “I think we have to prove, as a party, that we’re not going to do this again, that we have solved the problems that caused last year. We have to be clear about that. It’s not up to the people, or a couple of people. It’s about the structures, the trends and the conflicts that got us there.”
The re-connection theme touches on more than the party’s specific growing pains. Kuttner said that through their discussions with people across Canada, they have seen that in general people are wanting to reconnect and come through this difficult time in a more sustainable and safe way.
“People are gripped by (fear),” they said. “The sense that I get from the wider population is that there’s a lot of denial and there’s a lot of fear. Fear holds us completely immobile. We cannot deal, so we’re just afraid, and its clear from the way people react to things.
“The other piece is despair. People are feeling horrible when they are looking at what’s going on: crisis after crisis after crisis. They don’t know what it feels like to be cared for, and they’ve lost faith and trust — that was probably misplaced in the first place — that the systems would take care of them,” they said. “Our discussion is around how this is a moment where people are finally realizing they are stuck in the fear part, but it is an opportunity to co-solve the crises by addressing the fundamental problems that underlie societal constructions that have allowed for this.”
Part of the discussions Kuttner has been having with people has been about visioning the future. Vancouver Islanders generally have a few concerns, namely the future of industry on the Island, housing and affordability.
“The dream that we share, largely, is incredible,” Kuttner said. “It’s one where we’ve reestablished our understanding that we are part of nature, not apart from it. We don’t need to extract to survive and have circular economies, that we have resilience to crisis, we have clean air and water and people have easy access to food, water, shelter and all of our basic needs are met. People don’t live in fear, and we have true peace based on justice and the sense of true sustainability for the way we set up life that will last for generations.”
Kuttner said that the goal was to pivot the discussion from either the difficulties of the past few years, or the hope to return to what existed before the pandemic, and to find a new way forward that ensures everyone has a chance to live a comfortable and safe life.
Part of looking to the future includes examining the party itself. Kuttner has been in the leadership position for just over five months, but according to the party’s constitution, a new leadership contest has to start within six months of the interim leader’s stint.
“We had to do some really fundamental restructuring, so we decided to take our time with it. We really want to make sure we’re doing a good job,” they said. “I think we’re going to be doing it in a very different way than a lot of parties structure their leadership races… The whole idea for us is that sustainability comes from being deliberate, instilling what you want and being careful about it. It’s a good opportunity for that.”