This is the speech Karen Selick had prepared to give in court on Friday:
“Your Honour, I do not envy you your task today. Today, you have to choose between enforcing the law, and doing justice—because regrettably, we cannot assume that they are one and the same.
Here in your courtroom there sits a crowd of some 60 people: supporters of Michael Schmidt, people who have been helped by him, people who have benefitted from the very same regulatory offences that you have convicted him of.
Your task today is to punish this man for the very acts that they are here to pay homage to him for.
You have no guidance before you, no precedents to tell you what is the “going rate” for a raw milk offence. You will have no choice but to exercise your own discretion, to use your independent judgement, to summon up all the wisdom you have acquired over the years, and to impose a fitting sentence.
I checked the Courts of Justice Act to see whether perhaps your oath of office would give you some guidance as to how to resolve the conflict between enforcing the law and doing justice. I was dismayed to find that it doesn’t. There is no reference in your oath of office to doing justice. You promised only to “execute the duties of a judge of the Ontario Court of Justice”.
So you have to ask yourself, “Which is more important? Why am I really here? Why do we have a court system at all?” For me, the answer is crystal clear. We have a court system to do justice. The courts are an independent branch of government, not mere minions of the legislature—because sometimes the legislature makes mistakes. Sometimes it enacts laws that were ill-conceived in the first place, or if they were once wise and useful, have now outlived their usefulness. And that is why we have a separate branch of government, the judiciary, to take an independent look at individual cases in a way that the legislature cannot. Your job is not to rubber-stamp the will of some legislators who lived 70 years ago. Your job is to do justice.
And it is my view that justice does not consist in punishing someone who has never done anyone any harm. It does not consist in punishing someone whose supposed “victims” are sitting here hoping desperately that you will not punish him enough to prevent him from continuing to “victimize” them”