“TORONTO — A landmark decision expected Tuesday by the Ontario Superior Court on whether a rural Ontario dairy farmer broke the law for distributing raw milk has been delayed — again.
The ruling was supposed to decide if a justice of the peace erred when he acquitted Michael Schmidt of 19 charges related to the production, sale and distribution of raw milk and raw-milk products resulting from his cow-share business.
The decision, which is now expected to come out sometime Wednesday, was originally supposed to be released last week. It has been delayed due to computer problems at the Newmarket, Ont., courthouse.
In January 2010, the court found the Durham, Ont., farmer’s actions did not contravene the province’s Health Protection and Promotion Act and the Milk Act — the two pieces of legislation he was charged under — because he only gave the milk products to the joint owners of a cow-share and not the public at large….”
“…But last April, the Ontario government and the local health authority, the Grey-Bruce Health Unit, appealed the acquittal arguing the justice of the peace made critical legal mistakes. The lawyers argued one of the main issues was that the justice, who is originally from South Africa, did not have the required background for the case because he was never a lawyer in Canada.
Schmidt’s lawyer, Karen Selick of the Canadian Constitution Foundation, countered the appeal by arguing the prohibition of raw milk products denies raw milk farmers their right to liberty because it makes them unable to work. Also, it contravenes with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms because it denies people access to the food they want and leaves them with only the option of regulated pasteurized milk, which some say makes them sick.
Schmidt has been fighting the courts on this case for 17 years. Similar cases are ongoing about Alberta and British Columbia.
Late last week, he said he was anxious for the decision and cheekily quipped that he didn’t expect it until “the cows come home.”
Since the landmark Ontario ruling, cow-share operations have quietly grown in numbers in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia….”