As an elected representative in the provincial parliament, I find the decision handed down on December 2 by Justice J Boswell to be a grave injustice and without regard for our traditions of British common law.
Michael Schmidt is a peaceful man, a man of conscience and conviction and a productive member of our community. In contrast to other protests, Michael’s protests over milk are defined by the absence of force or of the threat of violence, and without destruction of private property. These peaceful characteristics explain Mr. Schmidt’s widespread support in the community and throughout the province.
It is beyond question that Michael has worked endlessly and enduringly, and with respect for the law. He has often requested for full and proper hearings and an airing of “The Milk Act” and the science that supports the legislation. However his every attempt at legislative reform has been blocked or dismissed by special interests. Furthermore, it is clear to all, that any disobedience he may have shown has always been peaceful, respectful, and civilized, and in the very best of our traditions, dating back to Henry David Thoreau, of civil disobedience to unjust laws and unjust men.
Justice Boswell delivered a strong message to Mr. Schmidt in an effort to coerce respect for the law; however would not the admonishment of the Ontario Legislative Assembly and the Public health Authorities for their failure to respect the convictions and conscience of people not been a more appropriate response? Justice Boswell may have missed or chosen the wrong target, and this case demonstrates that in reality, it is our public institutions that are in contempt of the court of democracy.
Although Justice Boswell refused to hear arguments regarding the public safety of milk, he allowed this un-argued factor to justify the penalty. If indeed Mr., Schmidt’s milk places the safety of the public at risk or in jeopardy than incarceration would be a most appropriate penalty. Furthermore, Justice Boswell indicates another aggravating factor was Mr. Schmidt’s deliberate and planned actions, by deduction this argument implies if Mr. Schmidt’s actions were unplanned, irrational or without deliberations the penalty would be lessened. Our courts ought not to be encouraging or providing incentives for irrational thought or rash behaviour.
In addition the amount of the fines and costs levied against Mr. Schmidt are grossly disproportionate to his act of civil disobedience, and therefore violates his right, under section 12 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, “not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual punishment.”
The Ontario government has failed to review the benefits and/or potential harm of raw milk since 1939 and has a fundamental obligation to the people to act upon their legitimate requests. The creating and keeping of laws by the legislature inherently requires the timely updating of these laws based on new science, technology and the principles of natural justice. Justice Boswell’s decision compounds the problems created by the legislature, and serves to bring the administration of justice into disrepute. Justice would be best served had the case against Mr. Schmidt concluded with a dismissal and an exhortation to parliament for a parliamentary review of the “Milk Act.” I will continue to voice my opposition until these wrongs are set right.
Sincerely, Randy Hillier