Michael Schmidt is “willing to die if it’s necessary” for responsible food freedom

Michael Schmidt was planning to hand deliver this letter to Premier McGuinty's office. However, since he was prevented from doing so, he posted it under the watchful eye of television cameras, in the basement at Queen's Park, the province's legislative headquarters, after today's news conference.

That’s what raw milk farmer and activist Michael Schmidt said today at a Queen’s Park news conference in response to a question from a Toronto Star reporter.

Of course dying for the cause wouldn’t be his first choice. But it underlines that fact that he’s putting his life on the line in a very real sense to drive home his point that Premier McGuinty needs to sit down with him and start a dialog about how to transform the province’s raw milk underground into a system in which people will be able to buy openly from accredited dairy farmers, instead of through clandestine meetings in suburban parking lots.

Also following the news conference, Michael reads the text of his letter to Premier McGuinty for the benefit of the television reporters, outside the media room at Queen's Park earlier today.

Michael emphasized that he’s really on the same page as responsible food safety administrators like the one he debated earlier this year in Saskatchewan. Everyone wants safety around raw milk. Sadly, many in government and public health still delude themselves that the traffic in illicit raw milk can be stamped out by their say so. Michael takes the position that it can be made safe, or at least a good deal safer than the Maple Leaf luncheon meats which killed twenty people a couple of years ago.

Through the Cow Share Canada accreditation and training program which he helped institute shortly after his acquittal in January 2010, Michael has been doing just that, setting up a framework under which consumers can have confidence in accredited farmers’ cowshare programs. But last month’s reversal of that court ruling has left that program very much in limbo.

At this news conference Michael was supported by Danny Beaton (Turtle Clan of the Mohawks) who first met Michael at the Site 41 protest this summer. Michael and Danny were both jailed following that action, but they succeeded in changing the plans to turn farmland into a dumpsite.

The bottom line from today’s press conference is that we’ve been waiting 17 years for government to come to the table and negotiate a sensible solution to the raw milk dilemma. People want raw milk. People are getting raw milk. But let’s see how if we can’t make it safer all around. Michael’s hunger strike is a way of upping the ante to create a real urgency to start that process soon. After 17 years he’s tired of waiting. It seems the ball is now in Premier McGuinty’s court.

Later this evening following the press conference Michael met with about 40 of his farmshare members to discuss ways of dealing with the possibility of government interference in the farm operation while a legal appeal of Justice Tetley's recent decision is being filed.

And just as an example that we would all do well to follow, here’s what one concerned citizen wrote recently to Premier McGuinty:

“Dear Premier McGuinty:

We live in a multicultural society. Multiculturalism is even protected under Canadian law. Why does Ontario insist on violating my right to my culture to eat and drink according to my beliefs and values?

I refer to my right to consume unpasteurized milk from Michael Schmidt’s cows, which I am part owner of through a cowshare. Don’t tell me I put children at risk– I (thankfully) experienced growing up nourished by raw milk, as do thousands of farmers’ children today.

This isn’t some devious mass marketing, or any marketing at all for that matter.  There is no advertising, as a single farm on this model by its very design only aims to supply its own small consumer co-op. Nonetheless, please note that this is a “role model” of social mutual support between farmer and consumer, with neither put at a disadvantage by the other. It’s an example in Ontario of progressive cultural renewal, that rejoins disparate fragments of urban and rural that got pulled apart by industrialization and can now come back together in sharing and caring — what Ontario needs much more of.

Please, your government is able to end the unfair discrimination against the ethical livelihood and liberty represented by Mr Schmidt. He has been very courageous in standing up for what is right, enduring years of stress and worry because of our shared values. When our cowshare persons come together at my church parking lot to receive the wholesome enzyme-rich milk or cheese, please, Mr McGuinty, could you not come stand with us?


Zeb Landon,  Simcoe”

For the text of Michael Schmidt’s letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty, see this earlier post.


Filed under News

6 responses to “Michael Schmidt is “willing to die if it’s necessary” for responsible food freedom

  1. Joy Gadway

    Prayers and thanks to you, Michael Schmidt, and all your cowshare folks, from a raw-milk lover in Virginia. We are watching the case closely and I do feel that ultimately we will prevail as the numbers and the organization and the rightness of the cause continue to build. So far no one is bothering “my” farmers or my cowshare but I would go to jail to stand up for them and our rights. I do not have the courage to do what Michael is doing. God give you strength and wisdom! Joy

  2. nedlud

    As much as I love and respect Michael Schmidt, there is one over-riding consideration but must be kept in mind at all times when we discuss ‘freedom’: You can NEVER treat the oligarchs on a par with you (you being the common people) because they are not. They are the ‘refined products’ of a system that made them. This system isolates huge surplusses of wealth and puts that wealth in their hands. Whereas, ordinary people understand intrinsically that wealth is only real wealth when it is shared actively (and equally) amongst EVERYBODY, the oligarchs imagine that wealth is THEIRS, that other humans are chattel, and they are dedicated totally dedicated to the SYSTEM, that in their minds rightfully gives them all this surplus wealth and will guard it, for themselves, in EVERY WAY POSSIBLE. Every act, every agreement the oligarchs make, first and foremost, is a preoccupation with guarding (sucessfully and deviously) what they view as their wealth. This is a mental defect, a pathology that they possess. You cannot, I repeat CANNOT, regard them as you might, a neighbor, or even a stranger you might meet tomorrow. You can not work with them and you cannot trust them.

    They (the oligarchs–politicians, large company representatives, government and industry monied ‘leaders’ of all sorts) have been cultivated by years of this system (we can loosely call it ‘Western civilization’), affecting their minds, in this way. I believe they are incorrigible, ie., unhealable, unchangeable and untreatable and that this must be understood.


  3. Gretna Maggiacomo

    Our government allows the sale of tobacco BUT NOT THE SALE OF RAW MILK……give me a gun cuz I want to shoot myself in the head, oh,oh, guns are another issue!!!! Thank goodness for the good sense that dwells in the hearts of good people….I AM A RAW MILK CRUSADER

  4. ADHD

    Yours truly has written the following letter to the Premier of Ontario as follows:

    Your Excellency, Mr. Dalton McGuinty:

    I’m hereby asking you to please permanently terminate ALL legal and other action against my friend and benefactor Mr. Michael Schmidt, IMMEDIATELY!!! I don’t want Mr. Michael Schmidt’s death to be upon the conscience of the Ontario taxpayers and citizens!!

    We Ontario consumers aren’t dealing with something truly harmful like hard-drugs (e.g., heroin, marijuana, LSD), tobacco or alcohol: this is a food about whose risks we are well-informed through our basic education, the mainstream media and also the more specialised media working via the Internet! [Not to mention that raw milk has been known and proven NOT to have negative effects if the cows are safe – and as to insisting on “safe” food, I’ll remind you of the recent scandal of listeria-infected cantaloupe melons – are we supposed to pasteurise THEM?? Where do we draw the line??] Furthermore, Mr. Schmidt has been totally honest and above-board about this: nothing has been secretive about it. To boot, I’ve now known him for almost a full 20 years and have known him to never be deceitful, arrogant or playing tricks when the chips are down.

    For anybody to try to hurt this upstanding Canadian citizen truly smacks of EVIL; and to do so in the name of the law as well as of Canadian and Ontario taxpayers is something I simply can NOT accept being applicable to me! I refuse to lend my good name to this kind of persecution – a persecution that reminds me of what my parents had to endure under Tito’s Communism in the ex-Yugoslavia prior to emigrating!!!

    I’m therefore asking you to formally and promptly intervene to suspend and then abrogate or modify this law in so far as those citizens who openly require or need raw milk are concerned. [It also smacks of particular evil that the test for raw milk requires the presence vs. destruction of a particular enzyme – phosphatase – that could well be beneficial to human beings (has this been tested?). Pasteurisation is meant to destroy bacteria, NOT to change milk into something different.]

    Sincerely yours,

    Alexander Zhivko Damyanovich, B. Math (U.of Waterloo), FRCCO

  5. Raoul

    These are Premier Dalton McGuinty’s latest thoughts on the Raw Dairy issue and as published today October 20,2011 in the Food Safety news (http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/10/hunger-strike-could-go-until-death-says-canadian-raw-milk-farmer/ ) :

    Schmidt hadn’t yet heard personally from the Ontario premier when he talked with Food Safety News, but he said that McGinty, in an interview on “global television,” indicated he didn’t want anyone to be hurt in the hunger strike.

    A spokesperson in McGuinty’s office confirmed that McGuinty hadn’t yet responded personally to Schmidt’s letter but that the letter is being reviewed.

    A media release from the premier’s office ended with this sentence: “In regards to Mr. Schmidt’s hunger strike, we would never want anyone to put their health and/or safety at risk.”

    Come on Mr. Premier all we are asking for is a one year moratorium and a dignified “man to man or face to face ” communication about how to create a win-win regulatory situation that benefits ALL the citizens of a Ontario and not just a few privileged corporations .

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