Raw milk trial an abuse of process — Michael Schmidt’s letter to the editor of the Owen Sound Sun Times

Michael Schmidt’s local newspaper, The Owen Sound Sun Times, has quite rightly given a lot of attention to his recent court experiences and has followed up with a couple of less than supportive editorials, which we have noted and commented on here and here. Now Michael Schmidt himself takes up his pen to set the record straight on the fallacy underlying the whole contempt of court proceeding, which was initiated by York Region and recently heard in Newmarket. Here’s what Mr. Schmidt has to say:

“In his way Phil McNichol added a valuable point to the current debate about raw milk. Certainly his view was much more constructive than the editorial a week ago where I almost got the feeling The Sun Times was slamming me because MPP Bill Murdoch has been instrumental in trying to start a constructive dialogue about raw milk in parliament. I also would like to thank The Sun Times for Grant Robertson’s article regarding regulating the raw milk market. That was constructive, thank you.

When I returned last May from California, where I testified in front of the State Senate Committee in respect to the criminalization of raw milk in Canada, I met with Medical Officer of Health Hazel Lynn in a coffee shop in Owen Sound. I told her how constructive a dialogue can be if there is a will to deal with issues. I also told her how much fun it is to go into supermarkets in California and find raw milk on the shelves.

She replied with the recommendation that I should move to California. In her own words, “The only thing that bothers me is that you break the law. What about the health issue?”

This comment is consistent with many situations I have encountered in the 14 years of trying to engage Government and the DFO in a dialogue. It is consistent with the York Regional Health Unit’s offer last July that they will drop legal proceedings as long as I would move into another jurisdiction. It is consistent with the previous medical officer of health Murray McQuigge who compares drinking raw milk with manslaughter and, yet, he has done nothing after 1995 to stop me, knowing full well that I had publicly announced I would continue.

Phil McNichol needs to study history to understand that the democratic process is severely compromised when government policy is dominated by corporate interests. We cannot talk about a democratic process when money rules politicians, when money rules policy making, when money buys all the legal power to bring down justice in the name of democracy.

Yes, we think that we in Canada have a free country, have a working democracy, however, it seems as if more and more people are starting to question exactly that.

I attended a lecture this spring by Robert Kennedy Jr. where he clearly pointed out that when corporate interests have taken over government policy making we cannot talk about a working democracy.

Countless profound changes in the history of democracy could not occur without breaking the law. Breaking the law does not come easy to me. It comes when the political process stops working. As the late Martin Luther King wrote in his letter out of the Birmingham Prison, “One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘an unjust law is no law at all.'”

The trial in Newmarket itself displayed how the legal process has been abused. Instead of waiting for the main trial, which deals with the legality of cow shares and also with the question, if in fact the ban of pasteurization is conforming to the Charter of Rights and Freedom, York Region misused its position to interfere in the due process of law, not me.

I have not been found guilty in any of the charges laid by the Ministry of Natural Resources or the local Health Unit.

In my response to Justice Boswell’s ruling, I responded with the following:

When Gandhi started his march to the Indian Ocean to encourage his people to make salt in order to defy the tax on salt imposed on India by the English Empire, he did that knowing full well that they needed to break the law in order to bring about justice.

When the black woman, Rosa [Parks], started the bus boycott in Montgomery, Martin Luther King knew that they had to break the law in order to eradicate injustice towards the Blacks in America.

When Stephen Harper apologized this year in the House of Commons for the government’s injustice towards the First Nations, he had to do it because the legal system failed to protect their individual rights.

In addition, I would like to remind everyone that the rule of law is indeed arbitrary. In history there have been countless executions and prosecutions of people in other countries and here in Canada who objected to injustice based on the rule of law of that country. We here in the west praise those in other countries who have the courage to stand up for lost rights, despite their breaking the rule of law in that country.

In March 1995, I offered in writing to the government of Ontario and the Milk Marketing Board my co-operation to study together the safe production of raw milk.

In December 2006, Bill Murdoch introduced a proposal to study the issue of raw milk at Queen’s Park.

For many years now, James McLaren in Ottawa has been trying to work with the different agencies to look at the issue of raw milk, so far without any success.

In November 2007, we prepared a proposal for the Ontario government about how Ontario might regulate a growing underground market based on working models from around the world.

Canada is the only G8 country with a total ban on raw milk. Here I can ask also, why is the Canadian government so arrogant to ignore these facts.

If they are concerned about the health of its citizens, cigarettes, alcohol and many, many other food items should be off the shelves. Hypocrisy wherever you turn.

All of the above has been ignored or ridiculed. What choices are left for me?

This is not only about health, this is not only about milk. This is about the growing awareness that especially the government and its public servants are accountable, and also their need to learn to respect the unalienable individual rights that grant everyone equal standing before our creator and before each other.”

Michael Schmidt, Durham

See how this looks on the Sun Times’ site.

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