Big Demonstration Buoys Michael Schmidt in Ontario’s Latest Raw Milk Case

DG-spking-Schmidtdemonstr-3-16

Yours truly speaking at Wednesday morning demonstration on behalf of Michael Schmidt outside courthouse in Newmarket, Ontario. (Photo by Liz Reitzig)

When Michael Schmidt arrived at the Ontario Superior Court in Newmarket at about 8 Wednesday morning, a court security guard greeted him like an old friend. “I’ve been coming here for ten years, and know some of these people well. The security guy told me that each time I come, I bring more people with me.”

On this particular day, Schmidt brought about 300 people with him, the largest demonstration ever on his behalf. They were in good spirits, much more animated and outspoken in demand of their food rights than I’d ever seen before—radicalized might be the description that is beginning to apply.

It was a testimony to Schmidt and his cause that such a turnout materialized on a frigid and damp morning, since the actual court case is only in its infancy. The proceedings on Wednesday, which took about an hour, were devoted to scheduling future hearings and determining technical issues, like whether to combine two complaints against Schmidt—one from the York Region and another from the Ontario dairy director.

Or possibly people are simply becoming ever more outraged that the legal beat against Schmidt refuses to end, and has been renewed on entirely new grounds….after 22 years of farm raids and trials. I recalled in my talk to the crowd how the last time I was in Newmarket in January 2010, the legal assault against Schmidt was already 16 years old, and how that January day, he was acquitted by Judge Paul Kowarski. But because Canada doesn’t prohibit double jeopardy, like the U.S., Michael’s acquittal could be appealed and in effect, he was re-tried. The Ontario government jumped on the opportunity to keep the case alive, and found judges to overturn the acquittal.

Schmidt has ignored that conviction, and the fine that came with it, insisting he has done nothing wrong in providing milk to members of his herdshare. His persistence, together with his ongoing resistance, appears to have enraged Ontario officials and the dairy cartel they support, and so this latest legal case represents a new wrinkle in the seemingly endless legal entanglements thrust upon him.

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One of a number of creative signs at Wednesday’s demonstration on behalf of Michael Schmidt.

This new case, though, is perhaps the most sinister of all the legal cases, since it seeks an injunction to prohibit all distribution of raw milk, not only by Schmidt, but by members of his herdshare. Moreover, the herdshare members would be banned from even encouraging others to drink raw milk–in other words, the complete criminalization of raw milk.

As in a number of other cases, Schmidt is defending himself. His wife, Elisa, who is a defendant, is also defending herself. A Toronto lawyer, Davin Charney, appeared to defend a church that has been charged because its parking lot is a drop point for the Schmidt herdshare, along with the herdshare itself.

What isn’t clear is how a raw milk prohibition would be enforced, especially if herdshare members organize huge demonstrations where hundreds or even thousands of people peacefully but willfully violate the injunction. Given the mood at Wednesday’s rally, it’s not difficult to imagine such an outpouring.

“It’s easier to get crack here than raw milk as it is,” said one young woman demonstrator.

“I understand now why Trump is so popular in the U.S.,” said another.

“This isn’t about raw milk,” said another. “It’s about our freedom to choose.”

Schmidt captured those sentiments in his talk to the demonstrators. “We are not asking for permission,” he stated. “This is our right.”

He seems also to have retained his refreshing perspective on the seemingly never-ending grind of legal problems. “This is like Stratford,” he said to the demonstrators. “Each of these court cases is a performance. Except I don’t have to pay.”

(For another account of the day’s events, see The Bovine.)

17 comments to Big Demonstration Buoys Michael Schmidt in Ontario’s Latest Raw Milk Case

  • Michael…..my heart was with you in Ontario today!!!
    If I was not busy teaching raw milk in Portland OR this week at the NTA conference, I would have also been there.

    This is a cause for all people…. a cause that is as much human rights and political as it is nutritional ….it is a cause that mascarades as food safety, but is actually about the protection of the Canadian Dairy Cartel Market Interests. Raw milk is thriving all across the USA….meanwhile, dairies are going out of business with milk prices below cost of production.Why???? Because pasteurization stole the value, stole the nutrition, stole any possibility that hard work could make a difference in the value of the milk. Anything can be dumped into the milk tank truck as long as its mostly white and came from a cow. Not so with raw milk….hard work and safety matters with raw milk. Raw milk has innate value and this scares to hell out of Canadian dairymen that pay $30,000 per cow for the right to sell their milk to the Cartel.

    Bless you Michael!!!

  • Whenever I can find a person of principle I seek to honor and support them. I’m far away in a snowstorm in WY but my heart is with Michael and his supporters. Standing for liberty and correct principles is the right thing to do. The tyrants and cowards in industry and governments will eventually fail.

  • Paula

    As a new spouse of a dairy farmer I think the name “cartel” is fitting ! The farmers paid 27thousand per kilo of quota a capped price that has now been capped at 25 how is that fair ! IMO it’s not .Small family farms are struggling to exist soon all you will see is factory farms yet media is filled with portrayals of the traditional farmer the farmer people like to believe that is producing the food they eat .Farming is a way of life it’s not a job we live it 24/7 our cows are born and raised on the farm we know each one of our girls by name , as for raw milk I have been drinking it since I came here and love it and despite other Heath issues have never had any problems from drinking raw milk and the farmers has been drinking his whole life and he’s as healthy as a “horse” .

  • Gary

    Hooray for Michael Schmidt and all of his supporters. This is indeed why Trump and Bernie have done so well. Hillary and all the rest, especially Cruz, pay obeisance to the oligarchs with their every political move. Bit of an ongoing headache for Michael Schmidt, but we will win, with activism and patience, although Obama’s new head of the FDA is a pharma/biotech employee/shill all rolled into one. Politicians appear to be abysmally ignorant and illiterate in especially these three fields: science, medicine, and nutrition.

  • Shana Milkie

    I’m so glad that there was a big outpouring of support for Michael Schmidt. I hope his nightmare ends soon, although that seems unlikely. Keep on leading, people.

  • rock on michael….so much of a free country!!!a weston price supporter is with you!!! these idiots deal be defeated!!!THE USDA IS BOUGHT AND SOLD!!!

  • Lynn Wright

    Hang in there Michael, Elisa, and all Glencolton farm share and herd share members. Billie, Carol & I rally with you from thousands of miles away! You are fighting for ALL our rights!

  • Bora Petski

    May the farce be with you Michael… Oh I see it already is. As others have pointed out, you are fighting for all of us and have our unwavering support so always remember that.

    And now for some new news:

    “Organic Valley tapping trends in product development”

    “The only way to generate more butterfat is to sell more skim milk.”

    http://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/news_home/Business_News/2016/03/Organic_Valley_tapping_trends.aspx?ID={90385822-1633-42FB-8EC0-B93E70666934}&[email protected]

  • Bora Petski

    try again…

    http://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/news_home/Business_News/2016/03/Organic_Valley_tapping_trends.aspx?ID={90385822-1633-42FB-8EC0-B93E70666934}&[email protected]

  • realist

    We need to be clear about the role of the authorities. Under the law, they had no choice in this.

    Section 18 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act prohibits selling, offering for sale, delivering, and distributing raw milk and raw dairy products. As well, Federal law prohibits raw milk sales.

    Sections 10 and 11 of the same law make it mandatory for health units to inspect and enforce the law. They are not given the option to say “No.”

    I heard that this was all started due to an anonymous complaint from some busy-body to York Health, about transactions in the church parking lot.

    York’s court application states that evidence was found on a computer drive that sales were still taking place, that milk was being sold by the litre using the FarmMatch online ordering system.

    Under the law and given this evidence, York Health had NO choice but to investigate and enforce.

    It’s time to get the law changed to legalize herdshares, legalize raw milk sales, or both. All raw milk farms in Ontario are at risk if someone decides to file a complaint to the local health region.

  • contrary to your assertion, Realist – that the York Health does not have the option to say “NO” to pursuing a complaint through Court, in fact they have the latitude to prosecute, or not. And their gunslinger lawyers exercise such every business day. Here in BC, ‘way up the coast, there’s a dairy which has been serving the village with REAL MILK, for about 40 years. The health inspector is on a first name basis with the milkmaid. Off the record – in negotiations to do with on-farm slaughter regulations – officials from the provincial Health Ministry admitted they know perfectly-well what’s going on, but they don’t lower the boom because the REAL MILK is precious to the locals.
    – I see in the paper that, in the Ontario case where the poor little Daschound got bitten to death by a pack of corso canne, the Crown layed a charge of “mischief / interference with property” against the scurrilous dog owner of the 4 “dogs of war”, who scurried away from the bloody scene. I’m half a mind to take the train back to Newmarket, and lay similar charges against the over-educated idiots on the govt. payroll, for similar offences committed against the GlenCoulton group.

  • realist

    I’m certain, Gordon, that if had been clear that members actually did own the animals and were not purchasing raw milk, that prosecution would not have occurred. If it had been such, then they would have had discretion. But given the evidence that they believe they have found, they had no choice.

    Nevermind, on the selling side of things, there are laws which the Ministry must also uphold.

    The solution could be to set up a herdshare where no sales are taking place, and where members make their own transportation (not distribution) arrangements for products which they already own. I argue that transportation is not the same as distribution. I’m not distributing when I take something I already own from one place to another, for my own personal use.

  • Mary McGonigle-Martin

    Can no longer say the listeria in raw milk has never caused illnesses or that no one has ever died from raw milk.
    http://www.cdc.gov/listeria/outbreaks/raw-milk-03-16/index.html

    • David Gumpert David Gumpert

      I know this gives you tremendous satisfaction, Mary, but it’s not conclusive, by a long shot. Stay tuned.

      • D. Smith D. Smith

        Listeria is more commonly found in pasteurized milk than in raw dairy, but the CDC is telling people only to consume pasteurized products. I guess that makes sense to someone but it’s horrible advice to consumers.

        You’re right, David, this is not conclusive.

  • John

    D. Smith
    Farm pictures suggest some silage feeding. Might be relevant to listeria-risk.

    John

  • D. Smith D. Smith

    Possibly, John, but the CDC is still giving out bad advice.

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