Here’s an excerpt from a report on the Owen Sound Sun Times by Paul Jankowski. According to a customer on the blue bus yesterday, this story was also carried by CBC radio news:
“Durham-area farmer Michael Schmidt announced Tuesday that he is running to replace outgoing MPP Bill Murdoch as the Progressive Conservative standard-bearer in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound.
Schmidt, perhaps best know for his long and very public fight against provincial laws prohibiting the sale of raw milk, is the first person to declare his candidacy for the PC nomination since Murdoch announced earlier this month that he won’t seek re-election.
Schmidt said because of his much-publicized advocacy for raw milk “in the debate this will always come up, that I’m just a one-issue guy. But . . . if you really, really have followed me right though the last 16 years I’ve always said it has nothing to do with milk. It is about the basic fundamental right of people to make a choice. I spoke up about education, I spoke up about health care. I have a very broad background in culture itself through running for years Symphony in the Barn, the Saugeen Bach Festival, the Saugeen Bach choir. I’m very concerned with small businesses.”
He said there is a “critical divide” between rural areas and Queen’s Park.
“They do not understand truly the rural issues.” For example, he said, “You buy a property then government passes a regulation which restricts the use of the property for the good of the public and you don’t get compensated for it and you still pay taxes . . . you cannot sell it anymore because nobody wants to buy it because they cannot build on it or they cannot log it or they cannot dig a pond or whatever.”
It’s past time, he said, for people to fend for themselves instead of depending on cheques from a government that is broke. “The important thing is that, at the same time when you ask people to start fending for themselves, that you do not hinder everything they do through regulations.”
Expensive demands are made on small business “based on big corporations. Small butcher shops I would say are almost never a problem when it comes to contaminated meat.” Yet controls on big corporations are also imposed on small firms that can’t afford them.
“I’m a very unlikely candidate because I didn’t come up the traditional ladder of town council, county council and then warden or whatever,” Schmidt said in an interview. “But when you look at other areas, there’s interesting new ideas that have come up when you do not have the traditional candidate.”
Schmidt ran unsuccessfully for the federal Green Party nomination in 2008 but says he’s comfortable with many Progressive Conservative policies.
“I’m probably very similar to Murdoch that certainly there are things I don’t agree (with) . . . but at the end what counts most is how can you represent your area. It doesn’t matter what the party line is, but how can you most effectively represent your area at Queen’s Park.”
The Greens, he added, “have hardly any chance to get into Parliament and become effective there” under Ontario’s first past the post electoral system. “If you want to be effective in politics, then you join a party and try to work from within the confines of the party,” he said.
The Tories believe in “reducing the burden of the public sector . . . It makes a lot of people mad because they’re working probably for half of what public sector people get and financing government to control us,” Schmidt said. “We have to somehow get away from regulations to more responsibility for the individual.”
Ontario has 500,000 provincial regulations, twice as many as British Columbia, and “instead of looking at how can we control people more and more through new regulations, why can’t we open that up so that people become more responsible for their actions?” Schmidt said.
“The government was never intended to control people, the government was always intended to protect the individual freedom of every member of society. It’s completely reversed now. Now we have a micro-controlled environment where you need a licence for that, a licence for that, a licence for that. You can only have so many chickens . . . that basically handcuffs any healthy development. And that goes with education, that goes with health care, it goes right across all the ministries.”…”
Some background: MPP Bill Murdoch proposed a private members’ bill in 2006 to have the provincial government study the question of raw milk. The bill was defeated after apparent lobbying by the Dairy Farmers of Ontario (formerly the Ontario Milk Marketing Board). One might imagine the DFO promised to support the McGuinty government in rural Ontario, where the Liberal party has been historically weak. Another raw milk supporter, Randy Hillier, ex-president of the Ontario Landowner Association is currently at Queen’s Park as a Progressive Conservative MPP. Of course this is not just about raw milk. Michael Schmidt has commented earlier that he’s concerned about the prevailing political culture in Canadian politics, and it’s really no big surprise that he’d set out to change it.
Editiorial comment: Go Michael!