Raw milk crusader didn’t hurt anyone

From Denis Langlois, in the Owen Sound Sun Times:

Michael Schmidt and supporters, leaving the Newmarket court after the sentencing last month.

“Raw milk crusader Michael Schmidt plans to appeal both his Sept. 28 conviction and subsequent sentence for producing and distributing unpasteurized milk.

Karen Selick, the Durham-area farmer’s lawyer, said the law has “inflicted an injustice” in the Schmidt case.

“It is my belief that the law should not punish people who have never harmed anyone else,” said the litigation director for the Canadian Constitution Foundation.

“This was a victimless offence.”

Schmidt was found guilty of 15 charges in a Newmarket courtroom on Sept. 28 for violating the province’s Health Protection and Promotion Act.

He was ordered to pay a $9,150 fine and slapped with a year’s probation at a sentencing hearing Friday.

Selick said she and Schmidt are “definitely” planning to appeal the convictions. Schmidt said Monday the sentence will also be appealed.

The charges against Schmidt stemmed from a raid on his farm in 2006 by Ministry of Natural Resources and public health inspectors.

After his sentencing hearing, Schmidt said the province “went after the wrong target” since he has not owned the cow-share program for “many, many years.”

Selick said that is one basis for an appeal.

“It appeared that the judge misapprehended Michael’s evidence,” she wrote in an e-mail to The Sun Times.

“Michael stated that he had divested himself of all his assets in about 1995 in order to follow the Gandhian model of effecting change. Mahatma Gandhi had pointed out that once the state has lost its power over someone by not being able to deprive him of material assets, then it would be forced to deal with the real issues he raises. However, Michael also testified that he had ceased to dwell on the farm in March, 2011. The judge seemed to confuse the two dates and seemed to believe that ‘for most of the past decade’ the farm was an ‘available resource’ owned by Michael.”

Selick said the judge also “seemed to assume” that other people would pay for Schmidt’s fine, another reason for an appeal.

“I have never seen a sentence that assumes other people will pay an accused person’s fine. This puts the accused in an impossible position if those other people don’t step up to the plate,” she said….”

Read it all in The Owen Sound Sun Times.

Photo below from Karen Selick’s Facebook album:

Fun and games on the lawn by the courthouse parking lot after the Schmidt sentencing.


Filed under News

12 responses to “Raw milk crusader didn’t hurt anyone

  1. Good luck Michael!

    The fact of the matter is that most laws put people innocent people in cages that have never harmed anyone.

    That is what the monopoly on lethal force that we call government does with the 50% of our productivity that it steals.

    Ironic isn’t it? The people we pay to protect us are the people we have to fear.

  2. Peter

    If Karen is in deed challenging the verdict on the fact that there was no harm, then I hope she sees that she is challenging the need to have business licenses as well… Selling your wares to the public without a license is equally a victimless crime. And then there are speeding tickets… also (usually) a victimless crime.
    I’m not making one right or wrong. Just calling it as I see it, and can’t see her succeeding on those grounds, given the facts of the case.
    In deed, one must appreciate the difference between preemptive (regulatory) vs remedial (criminal) offenses. Thereafter one can structure his/her affairs accordingly. When one is well grounded in principle, the details are secondary.
    As for the other reasons, they clearly appear (to me) to be afterthoughts… akin to throwing mud against the wall, hoping something will stick.
    Anyway, that is my 2 cents worth.

    • John

      The HPPA charges are largely based upon the transactions with investigator Atherton. The issue is no pasteurization (which appears agreed upon), therefore the crime. Consumption (therefore harm or risk of harm) is not a factor v/v the charges. So, I agree. (I’d think it almost certain that none of the acquired dairy products were consumed.)

      • Peter

        As to your comment: “The issue is no pasteurization, therefore the crime”, I would suggest the term “offense”, rather than crime, because crime implies criminal offense. I believe the change in verbiage is beneficial for helping us to see things in a proper context: Criminal vs regulatory offenses.

    • Winifred

      Peter, I tend to agree with most of what you are saying here, however delegating responsibility to the government is, I would say not the fundamental reason for the all pervasive victim mentality in our society today. There is an important role for government, regulations and rules, in a society. There is also a place for private, free of government regulations, contracts. I rest assured you already know this! Good! This being said, I would then ascertain that Michael is challenging the government regulations not for just himself or his own private contracts with others (that he, incidentally, no longer maintains), but for Canadian society as a whole. In this light, he should be challenging the governmental regulations, in whatever fashion he chooses to do. Yes, this may mean that regardless of the acceptance of grounds for an appeal to the Supreme Court, or the potential outcome of Michael’s appeal, small scale farms may have to defend the private contract to maintain their pre-established farm-shares or cow-shares.
      In an ideal sense, I could also argue with you that regulations do not necessarily mean someone is not free, but protected. . Seatbelt regulations, have saved many lives and many from serious injury. I personally know the man who studied the statistics and began the movement to bring this law in to being. In hospital, later in life, when struggling with a serious heart attack, he witnessed a young girl brought in on a stretcher after a car accident, and quietly said, “This (pointing to himself) is understandable, that (looking towards the young girl going by) is not.” Do these type of regulations really take away our freedom? But of course, seatbelts are not the topic of this blog. Beyond regulations, Mandela is an interesting individual to learn about the ideal of freedom from, and there are others who have experienced and speak of freedom beyond prison walls and tryanny.
      Let us return to government regulations and the reality that they often go to far. Many are not for the protection of society. Look at the food industry today, look at the tar sands (I throw the tar sands in because in another post I might consider returning to them, regarding self-regulating, but not here) etc. etc. We need to challenge these government regulations. This is what Michael is doing. Maybe he is not doing it perfectly (whatever that would look like), but he is trying to do something to make change. That is commendable and needed in today’s society.
      I would like to add here, that in my government school system today, where I teach (and ironically I have run into many free thinking teachers, some who even support raw milk etc.), we had a Federation Day. Romeo Dallaire was a key note speaker. In my eyes, he is a Canadian hero. I would like end with a quote from his horrific experiences in Rawanda, from his latest book. Remember, this is General, of a peace keeping force, and trained on taking orders:
      “When I was given strict orders from the highest commanders of the UN not to act, merely to observe. It was a legal order, but I refused to obey it because it was immoral. …”

      • Peter

        I concur that there is an important role for the government. Primary function include national defense, regulating weights and measures, and regulating right of way. And whether the government should or should not regulate it’s public is perhaps more of a debate, and perhaps something to be evaluated per a nation’s constitution.
        Yes, Michael is free to challenge the existing legislation in whatever form he chooses (so long as he doesn’t impose…). And might consider his cause (whatever it is… still not defined…) a noble one. But there is a saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. As such, I believe it prudent to define the goal. Outsiders may see what he is doing as being for the good of the Canadian society as a whole. However, there in lies the problem. One cannot foretell the ramifications. For example, should the government bring in regulations, I can easily see the few remaining small scale farm dwindle down further… for they cannot shell out the coin to meet the new regulation requirements. And who is to say that reducing small scale farm operations are in the best interest of Canadian society. I am sure there are those that say it is fine, and many others would say it is not fine. I would find it ironic if many of the “Cow Share Canada” operations would seize to exist because of regulations (or perhaps even quota requirements). But who knows. Who can tell? This is the moral hazard of bringing forward regulations.
        And I would concur that regulations means someone is not free. In fact, the choice to be protected is an unalienable right. However, so long as one is governed by someone else, one is confined to the dictates of the one governing – seat belts or no seat belts.
        That governments go too far with the regulations is entirely subjective. Some say banning raw milk is entirely okay, while others suggest it has gone too far. I get that Michael has his standards, and feel inclined to fight for them. But if we adopt that as a virtue, how can we ever move beyond fighting?
        Thank you for bringing up the matter of Mr. Dallaire. Was he free, or was he governed by someone else? If one has a sense of what is moral, and what is immoral, you are free act on it. But the scribing of moral values is in deed subjective. Undoubtedly every religion espouses to have a hold of the higher moral values…
        Please, by no means am I saying Mr. Dallaire’s actions were right or wrong. Just working to show that there is inherent conflict between a man made order of things (i.e. civil society), and our intuitive moral values. They are, ultimately, incompatible, and will, till death do us part, be the reason for us fighting…

  3. Raoul

    Editor : This link says “Article not found ” . http://www.owensoundsuntimes.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx Peter: I think the idea is to create laws and regulations where none exist. Michael has been on his hands and knees begging for that for 20 years. Being public about it and bringing the issue to public attention is only one of many techniques for achieving that and more . Michael could have taken the easy way out and remained under the radar like 80% or 90% of cowshare and raw milk farmgate only operators . Believe me it is not a party to choose to do that . Similarly , the government goes after Michael now because he is public about and less because he has broken some non-existent laws or regulations . They desire to make a point so the other over-regulated farmers “keep in line” so to speak .

    • Peter

      Appreciate the comment. And this gets back to an original question, which has generally not been clearly responded to. Is it freedom we want, or regulation? Regulations are for those who are not free.
      Note: rights proper (including right to choose) are for those who are free. Those who are regulated only have privileges, until such time as they claim their freedom/responsibility.
      So… yes, what in fact is “Responsible Food Freedom”? Regulations where none exist? Forgive me, but the self evident confusion here is, imo, profound.
      Consumers love nothing more than to delegate the task of responsibility to the government. And no doubt there is a huge swell among consumers supporting Michael’s cause for government regulations. And this is not a problem. But please then don’t complain that you don’t have a right to choose. And please don’t complain if the small scale farms will dwindle away even further.
      And, if I may suggest, this misunderstanding of delegating responsibility to the government is the fundamental reason for the all pervasive victim mentality in our society today. Freedom and clear thinking go hand in hand. Thinking clouded by emotion/fear and prejudice does not constitute the clear thinking. Do we really have standing to complain that we are not free, and that “they are doing it to us”?

  4. thebovine

    Link to original story fixed now!

  5. Pingback: Food Movement: “Someday there’s going to be a Rosa Parks moment…” | Good Food 4 All

  6. Mona

    I believe that I have the right to put in my body the food that I choose. I believe I have been living my life, since I left my parents table, making those choices all along. I question (and haven’t chosen to choose to find out) that I could afford to live in a tropical place and eat fresh local fruit all the time – but I certainly have the right to. And I have the right to choose to drink raw milk and eat vegetables grown from organic earth without going to a store. I also have the right to choose not to eat commercially produced foods offered to the public. I didn’t say it was easy, but I have the right to choose. I believe everyone else has the same rights as I do if they want to make their own choices. It’s all about choice. I have the right to make my own choices…and Michael does to. What I don’t understand is why Michael appears to be choosing to want to get the government involved in legitimizing public sales of raw milk? It has been my observation over the past couple years that he had been advocating cowshares – which, to my understanding are meant to be a private agreement between individuals of Canada protected by the Bill of Rights? If he wanted the cowshare to be within the rights of the Bill of Rights, is it a misunderstanding for me to believe he would have stayed clearly out of public places, public advertising, and public sales? I’m meaning blue bus and farm store and websites. My observations are that public and private are clearly different.

  7. Kurtis

    Just what we need … another management body that becomes a regulatory body … that sells us down the river to over regulation.

    Only good thing is if you are the one forming it. The eventual payouts will be stunning.

    People need to seriously study our current quota system, how and why it all started, and how it became a yoke for those who supported and never understood what they where supporting and a cash cow for the educated and informed few.

    We and face the same potential pitfalls by asking for regulation rather than expressing the lawful nature of what we do and establish that simple fact.

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