When I think about Ontario’s latest legal steps to stamp out Michael Schmidt and raw milk, I think about the Shakespeare play, “Macbeth”.
“Out, damned spot,” Lady Macbeth demanded in frustration about imagined blood on her dress. It was really her guilt at work over her role in killing King Duncan.
“Who would have thought the old man to have so much blood in him?” she asks about the dead king. Ontario authorities must be asking something similar about Schmidt, 22 years into their campaign to take him down. The latest actions include trying to jail him and four others for resisting the theft of his milk during a raid of his farm last October (obstruction of justice, they call it), and demanding an Ontario court bar him from even “counseling” people to drink raw milk (as part of a complete ban on raw milk distribution).
Leading up to this, over the last 22 years, here is a brief summary of the Canadian actions:
*3 armed raids on Schmidt’s farm;
*Confiscation of the majority of his farm land;
*Planting of spy cameras around his property;
*4 trials for allegedly violating Ontario and British Columbia dairy laws;
*Tens of thousands of dollars in fines
Through it all, Schmidt has refused to bend:
*He endured a 39-day hunger strike in 2011 that had him on the verge of death until the Ontario Premier agreed to meet with him;
*Last October, he and dozens of supporters blocked Ontario agents from confiscating raw milk and dairy equipment.
Unable to break Schmidt through endless intimidation and court actions, the Ontario government has resorted to the obstruction of justice tack and, now, seeking injunctions against Schmidt and his herdshare members to prevent them from not only distributing raw milk to herdshare members, but even “counseling others to…..distribute unpasteurized milk.”
There will be a protest rally March 16 outside Toronto in advance of a court hearing on the injunctions; more info on this Facebook page.
Activist Liz Reitzig has additional background about the protest rally on her blog.
What makes the whole campaign even more remarkable is that, despite all the Canadian rhetoric about raw milk being unsafe and the need to protect Canadian citizens, there have been no illnesses in all those many years of harassment, either from Schmidt’s dairy or some dozens of others that supply raw milk via herdshares in Ontario and elsewhere in Canada.
After 22 years of legal dancing and weaving, Schmidt at this point can only marvel, and even chuckle, at the authorities’ obsession with him. He suggests that his West Grey local police are letting real crimes like robberies and burglaries go unsolved in their determination to halt his distribution of raw milk. He’s even helped organize a mock effort to aid the West Grey police, who have put out a public “wanted” notice to track down George Bothwell, one of the five farmers charged with obstructing the October 2 raid. This campaign is called “Find George”, and its latest initiative to locate Bothwell is pictured at the top of this post. And you think Donald Trump and the Republicans are the main political entertainment around.
Schmidt continues to have a funding campaign ongoing to pay his huge legal expenses, at GoFundMe.
“What makes the whole campaign even more remarkable is that, despite all the Canadian rhetoric about raw milk being unsafe and the need to protect Canadian citizens, there have been no illnesses in all those many years of harassment, either from Schmidt’s dairy or some dozens of others that supply raw milk via herdshares in Ontario and elsewhere in Canada.”
David, where did you get this information from?
Here are some cases of raw milk related outbreaks in Canada – and this is not a complete list, because Canada has no standardized national reporting system for food-borne outbreaks:
– 256 confirmed cases of disease in Ontario alone from January 2005 to September 2012. More than half occurred in infants and children. (page 2 of https://www.publichealthontario.ca/en/eRepository/PHO_Technical_Report_Raw_Milk_2013.pdf)
– Ontario, 2011: 6 cases of Yersiniosis, 137 cases of Campylobacter, 13 cases of Cryptosporidiosis. https://www.publichealthontario.ca/en/eRepository/Reportable_Disease_Trends_in_Ontario_2011.pdf
– B.C., 2001 – 5 cases e.coli -2 children hospitalized, developed HUS. – http://www.bccdc.ca/resource-gallery/Documents/Educational%20Materials/EH/FPS/Dairy/RawMilkOutbreakTable2000_2012c.pdf
– B.C. 2009 – 1 case, Campylobacter and STEC – http://www.bccdc.ca/resource-gallery/Documents/Educational%20Materials/EH/FPS/Dairy/RawMilkOutbreakTable2000_2012c.pdf
Given the lack of any standardized or centralized food outbreak reporting system in Canada, there are likely many more.
Remember that in Canada, all cow milk is controlled by provincial milk marketing boards under a quota system. There are no exceptions. One commercial dairy farmer who talked off-the-record to a blogger who goes by the pen-name “Dean of Tea” estimates that 80% of his comrades sell their surplus out-the-back-door – see http://deanoftea.blogspot.ca/2014/02/entering-raw-milk-underground.html . What else can they do? The alternative under a quota system is to dump it or be fined. So, not only do milk marketing boards such as the Dairy Farmers of Ontario lobby against raw milk legalization, but 80% of their members profit from this ban by selling potentially contaminated pre-pasteurized industrial milk on the black market. Given this situation plus the lack of any provincial testing standards for raw milk, and until recently the lack of any training for herdshare farmers, no wonder there have been outbreaks.
keyword being “herdshares” … as opposed to commercial quota-holdering milk producer. In fact, nearly all the “outbreaks” cited are in the US of A. If you scrutinize that material you presented, Realist, you’ll find that the nearly all the “outbreaks” are in the US of A. The few that happened in Canada, are from CAFOs, with 2 exceptions. Those being, on page 7 #27, the goat milk herdshare in Chemainus BC. When I phoned the Agister of that co-operative farm, namely Mrs Braun, she told me that the children who got sick, had visited a petting zoo the week before. The rest of the people who drank that same batch of milk, did not get sick. But as far as the medical profession is concerned, it’s now carved in stone that the milk was at fault. – someone purporting to be the mother of those children, chimed-in on The BovineWordPress a couple of years ago, with hysterical allegations. When I asked to interview her, she never responded. Curiously, that exchange cannot be found, now.
… As for the other one = #2 page 13 = purportedly in Dec 2009, IN FACT, the little boy did test positive for STEC, and his family was part of the Home on the Range cowshare. But there was no proof whatsoever linking his illness to the cowshare. Didn’t matter = guilt by association worked for fearmongering the urban myth of ‘how dangerous raw milk is’
— in 2013, when Michael Schmidt and I were on trial in New Westminster BC, charged with “contempt of Court”, for being the directing mind of the Our Cows cowshare, George Rice took the witness stand to testify against us. I asked him “from your 33 years as a health inspector in the Fraser Valley, do you have any evidence of anyone ever getting sick from consuming raw milk?” The official transcript shows him replying “no”. When my cross-examination concluded, Insp. Rice fled the building … his countenance beet red.
— contrary to your assertion that “there are no exceptions”, on official provincial stationery, from the Minister of Health, and the Ministry of Health in BC, I have exemptions for a jointly-owned raw milk dairy NOT to have to comply with requirements in the Milk Industry Act RSBC.
Land confiscation ? When did that happen? Are you referring to him having to sell lands to pay his lawyer?
Yes. When the State forces a citizen into unaffordable legal quandaries that can only be paid for by selling the citizen’s main asset, that amounts to confiscation. Just like when the State seizes a citizen’s property that has been legally produced (in Schmidt’s case, raw milk), it amounts to theft.
David,So why not just write, that he was forced to sell assets to cover legal costs? Cause state confiscation is grossly inaccurate.
Clearly the costs associated with later trials were much higher and yet no assets were sold. Another approach was taken.
I don’t believe it’s inaccurate at all to call the land sales confiscation. During later trials, Michael Schmidt’s celebrity and experience enabled him to either defend himself or attract pro bono legal assistance or else raise money from the public to help cover his costs.
I am also curious about the “hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines”. Cause from what I understand he was fined about $10,000. Of which he refused to pay, but not sure if that status remains so
In addition to the $10,000 fine, there were two trials with $55,000 fines apiece. And then there is the interest that accrues on those fines. One of the trial judges said that potential penalties on pending charges were so large as to be incalculable, in his judgment.
You seem to be suggesting this is all something akin to a casual game of Monopoly, where the State makes a few moves and Schmidt and company make a few moves, and everyone has a fun time. Afraid not. This is serious stuff.
Thanks David I was not aware of these $55,000 fines. They would change the associated risks for any farmer looking to explore getting into raw milk. So in total,your accounting for $120,000 in fines.
I am not sure how your coming to your second point. I am simply questioning the accuracy of these statements. It’s definatly serious business
in his BC trial, Michael Schmidt had to raise about ~$40,000 over 3 years, to pay for legal counsel, fending-off the Prosecutrixie Susan Beach … whose lawfirm got over a quarter of a million $ to prosecute him and me and Alice Jongerden. The $ raised for Michael came in, literally in small bills and a few big donations … by a few very dedicated sympathizers. They know who they are, and I thank you.
– in 2013, Schmidt and I were assessed “court costs” jointly and severally = which means each of us was personally liable for the whole amount. The Prosecutrixie never did go back to Court to get an Order for a precise amount of costs, because she didn’t want to contend with my argument that our case most certainly was ‘public interest litigation’, in which each side usually bears its own costs. The figure being bruited-about, was $100,000.
– Point being – we did not pay costs, and now, 3 years post conviction : our Adversary won’t be getting blood out of a stone. One of the first lessons in political activism, is : “Harden the target”, ie make one-self judgment-proof. Because the govt. just conjures-up $ at will … perverting the justice racket, ab-using the power of the purse to ruin dissidents
For clarity, the sentence for the regulatory infraction was set by Tetley at $9,150. On two separate occasions contempt of court fines were set at $55,000. One in Ontario, and one in BC . And all fines were refused to be paid, instead a jail sentence was sought. With the reasoning being that,paying a fine would be admittance of guilt.
I am still looking into whether these fines carry any interest
I guess you could phone the court house if it is THAT important
The best milk is raw milk. We know that in South america were also raw milk is prohibited….