Gordon Watson of Home on the Range cowshare in Chilliwack muses about how the recent not guilty verdict for Michael Schmidt in Ontario will affect legal proceedings against B.C. cowshare operators.
On January 21st, 2010 the arrangement known as “cowsharing” was pronounced ‘not unlawful’ by Justice of the Peace Paul Kowarski, in the case of Regina versus Michael Schmidt: files #4960-3084-3089/07 and 3270-3271/07 Ontario Court of Justice at Newmarket Ontario.
That decision says almost all there is to say on the topic, resolving the big problem here in BC – interference with the distribution of our milk by the Health Inspectors – in our favour. As of this writing ( Saturday January 23 2010) Fraser Health / Vancouver Coastal Health have yet to admit that much. Here is a link to a website from which the Reasons can be downloaded: http://www. foodrightsalliance.ca
Still hanging over our heads is the Petition started by Fraser Health, on January 11th, 2010. In it, their lawyer Guy McDannold, seeks an injunction prohibiting Alice Jongerden and others, from packaging or distributing milk from our herd. It is set to be heard in the Supreme Court of British Columbia at New Westminster at 9:30 am Monday February 1st, 2010.
On Friday January 22nd, at about noon, I spoke with Mr McDannold. He had heard about the Schmidt decision, but he had not then read the Reasons for Judgement. I asked if he expected the hearing to go ahead. He said that he does expect it will go ahead. Then qualified that by saying ‘of course, it depends on what my client has to say after reading the Reasons’.
I’m at work, preparing to give an answer if it does come on for hearing.
During the year that it took for Justice of the Peace Kowarski to render his decision, I started getting pessimistic that the unusually long time it was taking indicated ‘the fix is in’. And that the Establishment was hoping a decision adverse to REAL MILK drinkers would sink like a stone, as the public forgot all the commotion. But the opposite happened. Intense media attention – partly upon Home on the Range dairy – brought the issue to a head.
The thorough way JP Kowarski dealt with the matter did everyone a favour. The core issue has been resolved beyond doubt. It would be a ridiculous waste of resources for the Crown in Ontario to appeal the ruling in Schmidt. For Fraser Health to proceed on its Petition in B.C. would be a rank abuse of process.
I say ‘almost’ because we are in an even better position here than cowsharers are in Ontario. In British Columbia we have in our favour the findings of the Royal Commission into Report into milk marketing — which directed that ‘all the milk going to market ought to be Pasteurized, but there must always be a way for those who wanted raw milk, to get it’. When the Milk Industry Act was enacted in 1955, four sections spelled out the way for a farm to be certified to sell raw milk to the public. If Fraser Health does bully ahead to Court, they’ll have to address that recommendation of Commissioner JV Clyne, which is the very spirit of the Act.