The following is the text of a letter sent yesterday by Michael Schmidt to cow-share members, friends and supporters:
Dear Cow Share Owners
Dear Government Officials in charge of protecting our Rights and Freedoms
There is progress on every level.
Today I received the decision from Justice Boswell in regards to the Contempt of Court Trial.
A total of $55 000 have to be paid according to the documents released today–$5000 as fine and $50 000 as York Region’s costs.
The ruling is very interesting since it raises issues that I was not allowed to address in court.
This Ruling includes the following paragraph: “The contemptuous breach of the order accordingly involves an issue of public health and safety and this too is an aggravating factor.
The ruling also says:
The primary purpose of punishment in contempt proceedings is deterrence. In this case, issues of both specific and general deterrence are in play. The punishment imposed must serve as a deterrent to Mr. Schmidt to continue to use civil disobedience, and more particularly, breach of court orders, as a means to effect change in law. It must also serve as notice to others that similar actions will not be tolerated and will attract meaningful punishment. To do otherwise threatens the integrity of the courts’s process.
As mitigating factors the Judge wrote the following:
I have found Mr. Schmidt to be intelligent, well meaning and good-intentioned, if misguided person( at least in this instance)……He is otherwise a responsible, productive member of society.
He refers also to my example I used in court of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, how they used civil disobedience as a tool because the justice system failed.
However his interpretation fails to make the point, that I never compared myself with Gandhi or Martin Luther King , but wanted to demonstrate how the Courts in the past had repeatedly a disregard for fundamental justice and failed to accept the fact that man made law is no law if it disrespects the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals which are deeply rooted in the Canadian Charter of Rights and the Bill of Rights.
The fundamental issue of this case is before the courts and will be heard January 26. 2009. [Note: it was previously listed as Jan. 24. That was incorrect. -Ed]. York Region and the Ministry of Natural Resources have been working together since 2006 to stop us. We have the right to be innocent until proven guilty or until we have been able to challenge the legitimacy of the said law. I never opposed this process which lets us argue our point of view. York Region in cooperation with the Ministry of Natural Resources intentionally used this contempt trial to interfere with the main trial.
Do I accept this Ruling ? No, because the courts failed to ensure due process and did not wait until the other trial is finished.
I am aware of the consequences. I am also aware of the support we have across the country, across North America, and across Europe.
This is only a partial failure of the justice system. It is mostly a failure of public servants and politicians who do not respect the individual needs, rights and liberties of those they serve.
Here are some comparative numbers of what $55 000 mean for us here at the farm.
$55 000 = all the cows at Glencolton Farms
= the cost of 27,500 litres of Raw Milk
= the cost of 11,000 dozens of Farm Fresh Eggs
= the cost of 140 tons of organic grain
= the cost of 1,3500 loafs of organic bread
= the cost of 22 acres which can feed about 50 families
= 10 years of net income (if you’re lucky) in farming
= 100 hours of a good lawyer
= 25,000 hours of farm work in Canada
I would like to remind all of our friends that whatever happens next is all part of this process to be heard and to be respected.
I always wondered what choices judges have when they are confronted with a positive NO.
Advent is here and, with it, the search for light.
Thanks to everyone involved,