Ottawa - Sep. 21, 2011 - One of the most common questions people have asked me is why I chose to get involved with the Green Party of Ontario. There were many reasons for me - concern for the environment, frustration with politics as usual, impressive economic policies, and more. But what really sold me on the Green Party was looking at our platform and seeing “Food” among our top five priorities, in between Energy and Health. I was immediately impressed with a party actively tackling food security, agriculture, and rural concerns.
I grew up in rural Ontario, in the small town of Proton Station. All around our house was farmers’ fields. All of our neighbours and friends were farmers. My grandparents grew up on farms and owned one in Durham until a few years ago. Growing up, I was always impressed with the work ethic of farmers, and the unwavering hospitality of these communities. I have lived in small towns my entire life, and the unique needs of those rural communities have, as a result, remained something I care deeply about.
It is this connection with rural communities that makes me proud to represent the Green Party, as we bring forward a strong, sustainable plan for our farmers and rural communities.
The Green Party of Ontario has been calling for an Ontario Food and Farming Strategy since 2009, when Mike Schreiner was first elected. Yet, rather than supporting our local farms, we have seen a shift towards large scale agri-business operations and fewer local farms and food processors. With only 7,000 farmers under the age of 35, it’s time to end the empty rhetoric and ensure that Ontario’s food system is strong and sustainable for generations to come.
It’s time to recognize the important role that farmers and rural communities play in the everyday lives of all Ontarians. Through investments in rural infrastructure, distribution hubs, farmer co-ops, organic and specialty crops, and more, the Green Party will work to ensure thriving local agriculture with strong foundational support.
These investments won’t just benefit rural communities - they will benefit all Ontarians, as we improve access to healthy local food. As a Green MPP, I am committed to investing $200 million over four years for a comprehensive healthy school food program, supporting Buy Local campaigns and setting purchasing targets of 40% Ontario food for all public institutions.
Through this, and other forward-looking initiatives, we can ensure a healthy, sustainable Ontario for ourselves and our children. It’s time.