The raw politics of raw milk in Ontario

Raw milk farmer Michael Schmidt outside the courtroom in Newmarket immediately after his January 2010 acquittal on all 19 raw milk related charges, with supporters MPP Randy Hillier on his right and ex-Landowner Association president Jack McLaren on his left. The Province has since appealed that acquittal, and the outcome of the appeal is to be made public on September 16th.

We’ve just heard that the outcome of the Province’s appeal of Michael Schmidt’s acquittal on raw milk charges will be announced September 16th, instead of July 8th. Come September people will be back from their vacations and paying more attention to the news. And, as y’all may know, there’s gonna be an Ontario election in early October.

And as we also know, the current Ontario government — who are behind this appeal of Michael Schmidt’s acquittal — have been none too receptive to a private members bill to study the issues around raw milk (2006). In fact most government MPPs didn’t even show up for the discussion of the bill. In fact many cow share members and supporters were in the visitors’ gallery bearing witness to the fact that they didn’t deign to pop into the legislative chamber until the vote was called, on that cold winter day at Queen’s Park almost five years ago.

In fact, rumours were that representatives for the DFO (Dairy Farmers of Ontario) — who saw legal raw milk as a threat to their supply management monopoly — were promising the support of their farmer members to the Liberals in exchange for opposing legal raw milk in Ontario. Liberals have typically been weaker in the rural areas of the province than in the cities.

Opinion columns in yesterday’s Toronto Star — generally seen as a Liberal newspaper — suggest that the Ontario PCs stand a very good chance of defeating McGuinty’s Liberals and forming a government following the October 6th election. (here, and here)

The increase in Landowner presence and influence within the PC party could auger well for raw milk. I’m referring to ex-Landowner-president Jack McLaren’s nomination as PC candidate in Carleton-Mississippi Mills (near Ottawa). And of course  former Landowner Randy Hillier is already an Ontario PC MPP.

Of course the PC party has made little in the way of promises, and in fact hasn’t laid out much of a platform on anything. And it remains to be seen whether the PC campaign team is up to the challenge of going head to head with the likes of the self-described “latte sipping, Volvo driving” Liberal strategist Warren Kinsella, who helped run the Liberal election war room that kept Jean Chretien in power in Ottawa for so many years and who will be on McGuinty’s team for this election.

Kinsella has been very open in his contempt for the new Landowner element within the PC party, going so far as to call them knuckle-dragging mouth breathers. Of course he’s entitled to his opinions, and he’s not saying that as a representative of the party.

For what it’s worth, Kinsella’s books “The War Room” and “Kicking Ass in Canadian Politics” are well worth reading, and his regular column in the Sun is good clean political fun.

Nevertheless, the outcome of this raw milk case — which is now scheduled to be announced some three weeks before the election — may yet have a role to play in determining the winner of Ontario’s fall election.

Leave a comment

Filed under News

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s