“Durham-area raw milk producer Michael Schmidt’s case will have a hearing in the Ontario Court of Appeal in April.
Lawyer Karen Selick said a hearing has been granted in Toronto on April 25 to ask for leave to appeal on Schmidt’s behalf. She said three hours for arguments have been set aside. She’s doubtful a decision will be granted the same day.
“It’s a pretty voluminous application and it’s being strongly opposed by the attorney general’s office,” she said, adding a lot of material will be placed before the court.
Three years ago, Schmidt was acquitted in provincial offences court of 19 charges related to producing and distributing unpasteurized milk through his cow-share operation. The Crown appealed, and that appeal was heard in April, 2011. Last September, Justice Peter Tetley of the Ontario Court of Justice overturned the lower court’s ruling and upheld 13 of the charges against Schmidt. In November, Tetley sentenced Schmidt to $9,150 in fines and probation.
Schmidt has said he won’t pay those fines.
Selick, who is the litigation director for the Canadian Constitution Foundation and is acting as Schmidt’s lawyer, said if an appeal is granted it could be months before it’s heard.
She said she’s reasonably confident an appeal will go forward. “I wouldn’t be doing it at all if I didn’t think there’d be a good enough chance to succeed.”
Selick said she will be arguing that Tetley made a number of errors in his judgment and “that it’s in the public interest that those be corrected” because Schmidt isn’t the only one affected.
“Among other things, Michael Schmidt is not the only person affected by the interpretation of those statutes. There are other people in Ontario who are doing cow sharing and all of them are affected by the interpretation of the Milk Act and the Health Protection and Promotion Act.”
The issue has drawn a lot of public attention, Selick said, “so people are interested in knowing if this is the final decision or not.”
When asked if the Schmidt case could potentially be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada one day, Selick said “it’s not impossible,” but the Ontario Court of Appeal hurdle has to be cleared first….”