As a party, we have only about 10,000 members (I know this by rumour only). We certainly can’t take over the Liberal Party, but if we were to dissolve the Green party and sign up with the Liberals, we’d have a heck of a lot of influence applied at the right time, on the behalf of the existing leader.
A couple of high-profile defections, May's favorable view of Dion, contribute to the idea of Greens moving inside the Liberal tent. As Mark points out, it comes down to a matter of influence. Would Greens be swallowed up by the Liberal Party machine and lose relative influence? Is it better to work from the inside, or argue on the margins, where the philosophy stays pure but the influence is minimal?
Now this may seem like a strange perspective, given my own decision to join the Liberal Party, but I think the Green agenda is best served argued independently. The Green Party influence is certainly on the rise and their presence has pushed other parties to adopt more progressive ideas. If Elizabeth May can make it to the debates and become part of the national conversation, then Canadians benefit from her sobering perspective. I see the Green Party as a catalyst, their rising support a wakeup call to other parties.
If the environment is one of your primary issues, then an independent Green Party is your ally. We now have a situation where all the federal parties are jockeying for the environmental vote. I realize the Green Party is not a single-issue party, but it is the environment where the influence is best felt. Elizabeth May has the credibility to act as environmental broker, and a strong Green Party gives her the ability to argue from a foundation.
The best path, after the next election, might be a loose, informal affiliation with the Liberal Party. Let's say May wins a seat in parliament and the Liberal form the next government. If Dion is thinking clearly, apolitically, then May is the natural choice for Environment Minister. Who better understands the portfolio, and who better demonstrates an aggressive agenda? I know it is counter-intuitive to think one party would purposely legitimize another party. The obvious risks to your own base generally puts partisan considerations first, but in this instance it serves both sides. A strong Green vote will allow relevance and possible real opportunities to contribute. I think this moment the worst possible time for people to leave the Green Party. As Mark argues "stay on the outside and point the way", while others like myself try to infiltrate the vanguard. Inside, outside, how about all sides.