Political dramas at City Hall and Queen's Park may make for exciting headlines, but they've been a distraction from the challenges we face, not to mention undermining our belief that we can do better.
Since Dalton McGuinty shut down Queen's Park in October, the public has missed opportunities to hear debate on the Commissioners' Report on Social Assistance, updates to the Aggregate Resources Act, and Bill 130, the Promoting Local Food Act.
I mention these issues in particular because in different ways they are all linked to food.
Most critics panned the Liberals' Bill 130 as a piece of legislation lacking substance - NOW's Wayne Roberts called it "sheer rhetoric" - and in many ways it was. But a debate about food is long overdue.
The growing disconnect between citizens and the political system is mirrored by our alienation from our food systems. Recently we saw the power of that connection when rural and urban folks together stopped the Melancthon mega-quarry to protect our food and water.
While we should celebrate the victories of civil society, it's time to put food on the political agenda in the Ontario legislature.
We need a more positive politics in 2013. Let's put food on the table. To start, we need to deal with the growing dependence on food banks and move forward with social assistance reform to address the food insecurity of welfare recipients. Ontario also needs to update the Aggregate Resources Act to protect farmland and prevent future mega-quarries.
As well, we have to start a food conversation in our schools, where too many kids arrive hungry and where we see the growing costs of obesity and diabetes. Along those same lines, let's stop advertising junk food to kids - something my colleague Rosario Marchese has long proposed.
Instead of selling off valuable school land, let's transform those buildings into vibrant community hubs and move toward having a kitchen and a garden at every school.
And let's develop a universal nutrition program in our schools, starting with an apple a day for every Ontario student. Imagine the economic, enviro, educational and health benefits if all students started their day eating fruit grown right here.
Let's not allow New Year's talk to be dominated by crash diets. Instead of reinforcing the political despair felt by so many, we could begin 2013 with the basics of what we can accomplish together. Let's start with food. One apple at a time.
Jonah Schein is the NDP MPP for Davenport.