Raw milk a Charter of Rights and Freedoms issue — Karen Selick, Canadian Constitution Foundation

Karen Selick, lawyer with the Canadian Constitution Foundation, being interviewed for television outside the legislature building at Queen's Park, Toronto, November 17, 2009

Here’s the text of a statement presented by Karen Selick, representing the Canadian Constitution Foundation, in support of consumer choice on raw milk. The statement was presented at a news conference at Queen’s Park, Toronto, with raw milk farmer Michael Schmidt. Mr. Schmidt’s farm was raided Nov. 21, 2006. The charges arising from that raid came to trial last January 2009. A verdict is expected January 21, 2010. Here is the Canadian Constitution Foundation statement on the issue, from the CCF website:

“TORONTO: At a press conference at Queen’s Park today, the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) announced its support for a court case involving consumer choice, freedom of contract, and the right to earn an honest living free from government regulation that is arbitrary, unreasonable, unnecessary and unfair.

The case concerns Ontario dairy farmer Michael Schmidt, who has been providing unpasteurized milk to consumers for approximately 20 years without a single incident of illness attributable to milk borne germs.

Mr. Schmidt was charged in 2006 with numerous violations of the Milk Act and the Health Promotion and Protection Act, Ontario legislation that requires milk to be heated to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit before it can be marketed.

Mr. Schmidt has contested both his guilt under the legislation, and the constitutional validity of the legislation itself. He argues that the ban on raw milk sales violates the guarantee of “life, liberty and security of the person” in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The ban also violates the Charter’s equality and non-discrimination rights.

His six-day trial ended in February, 2009. The court’s judgment is scheduled to be released on January 21, 2010.

Since Mr. Schmidt was charged in November, 2006, the size of the herd he manages has doubled. There is also a waiting list of consumers wishing to participate in Mr. Schmidt’s raw milk dairy.

The CCF has announced that it will represent Mr. Schmidt in ongoing litigation challenging the constitutionality of the raw milk ban.

“This is about the rights of Canadians to choose a product that is safely consumed by tens of thousands of people around the world. It’s also about the right to earn an honest living free from government regulations that are unnecessary, unreasonable and unfair,” said CCF Litigation Director Karen Selick.

“There have been huge technological improvements in refrigeration, transportation and pathogen testing, in addition to the entrenchment of individuals’ constitutional rights. Consumers who want freedom of choice expect their government to make the transition to the twenty-first century and to respect their rights,” added Selick.

The CCF will also represent consumer advocate James McLaren, who has sought for many years to persuade federal and provincial authorities to revise the regulatory regime so that inspected and tested raw milk can be sold to consumers. Mr. McLaren will argue on behalf of consumers that the legal prohibition on raw milk violates their constitutional right to “security of the person”.

Mr. McLaren has recently established an on-line petition for consumers who want the government to conduct a policy review for the purpose of establishing safe protocols for the production and distribution of raw milk.

For further information, contact: Karen Selick, CCF Litigation Director, 888-877-4007


Further Background Information

A study published in 2006 in the medical journal Clinical and Experimental Allergy demonstrated that raw milk has a beneficial effect on children’s health. Scientists from prestigious American and European universities and children’s hospitals studied 14,893 children aged 5—13 years. The children who consumed raw milk had a significantly reduced incidence of asthma and allergies, compared with those who drank pasteurized milk.

Certified or government-authorized raw milk is sold in many European countries, including: the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands and Denmark. Raw milk is also available legally in about half of the U.S. states.

Canadian authorities justify the mandatory pasteurization of milk on the grounds of food safety. However, the U.S. Center for Disease Control has documented at least a dozen outbreaks of food poisoning from pasteurized milk over the past 25 years. Some outbreaks affected hundreds of thousands of people, and some resulted in death.

Online information:

The CCF website: http://www.canadianconstitutionfoundation.ca

The Bovine website of Michael Schmidt: https://thebovine.wordpress.com/

Natural Milk website of James McLaren: http://naturalmilk.org

Legalize Raw Milk in Ontario petition: http://www.PetitionOnline.com/rawmilk2/petition.html

Study on Raw Milk, Asthma and Allergy: http://www.organicpastures.com/pdfs/raw_milk_allergy.pdf

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