Monday, December 11, 2006

Greens Becoming Liberals

Prominent Green blogger Mark Francis at The Sudden Sage has a series of posts discussing Greens moving to the Liberal Party. The argument:
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.


Mark Dowling said...

Some would argue that the Green Party of Canada, being fiscally more conservative than european GPs, is fairly suitable to being folded into the LPC. The NDP could gain because they might be able to fold in the faction of the GPoC that is more european/Greenpeace-ish.

The question is whether some LPC members will consider such a mass influx the kiss of death to gaining seats in places like NL, SK, BC and AB all of which are benefiting from and/or planning to expand carbon-based resources or carbon-emitting power stations.

The LPC is a big tent party - witness the socon anti-abortion anti-gay rights factions. What happens when the business wing collides with the ex GPCers wanting to levy energy taxes? Will the same "disagree but stay in the tent" philosophy apply?

Anonymous said...

I too feel the Green Party should focus their efforts where they are best served - the environment.
I would have no problem with the Green Party serving as the environmental social conscience of the Liberal Party.
Unfortunately, Liberals make concessions due to political expediency which could be hampered by a voice from the Greens.

Steve V said...

"What happens when the business wing collides with the ex GPCers wanting to levy energy taxes?"

Maybe that tension already exists, and the influx of Greens would simply tip the balance. We just came out of leadership campaign where the frontrunner advocated a carbon tax.

"I would have no problem with the Green Party serving as the environmental social conscience of the Liberal Party."

I like that idea.

Lord of Wealth said...

What good would Greens joining the liberal party do. They are not democratic, they parachute candidates, they do not allow leaderships based on one member one vote, liberal leaders dictate to the party not the other way around.

If we want real change we must stick with a party that wants and would enact real change. The Liberals were in power more than 1/2 time we created this mess, the last crowd did nothing for the enviroment and I one for one don't tust them.