“Michael Schmidt is claiming a partial victory in fighting an appeal by the provincial government to a court ruling that found the Durham raw milk crusader not guilty of violating the Healthy Protection and Promotion Act.
Schmidt is being allowed to introduce new evidence and the testimony of new witnesses during an upcoming appeal set for later this spring before a judge in the Ontario Court of Justice .
“We can introduce new evidence and expand our constitutional argument which is a major stepping stone for us,” he said during a recent interview while at farmer’s week in Elmwood.
Last February the Ministry of the Attorney General launched an appeal of a decision by a justice of the peace to dismiss 19 charges against Schmidt to the Ontario Court of Justice.
A year-long trial that ended on Jan. 20, 2010 found Schmidt’s innovative “cow share” program for raw milk consumers, which elicited an armed raid by the Ministry of Health in 2006, did not violate provincial laws.
Justice of the Peace Paul Kowarsky ruled that Schmidt’s program, in which consumers become “part owners” of his dairy cows, complied with the Health Protection and Promotion Act and Milk Act, despite prohibitions on selling unpasteurized milk.
While raw milk is legal to drink, it’s illegal to sell in Canada because it’s considered a health hazard. Schmidt has spent the past 16 years fighting to make the sale of raw milk legal in Ontario. He is now taking the fight to other parts of the country.
“This is not about milk, this is about the respect for the individual’s right to make choices without government interference,” said Schmidt who views the government restrictions on the freedom for people to consume raw milk a challenge to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“We put a motion in that we should have the right to expand our argument because it was denied by the justice of the peace and we just got the ruling that we can put in new evidence and expand our constitutional argument,” he said.
Schmidt said the hearing date for the appeal is tentatively set for sometime in March….”