“TORONTO — These hallowed walls of Ontario’s highest court have heard arguments about murders and embezzlements, bitter divorces and ugly assaults.
But the Court of Appeal has never before been asked to rule on the legality of distributing unpasteurized milk. That’s about to change.
It didn’t take long for Justice Eileen Gillese to decide that raw milk crusader Michael Schmidt deserves yet another day in court. After listening to morning arguments, she ruled the dairy farmer, originally acquitted in 2010, should be allowed to appeal his 2011 conviction for selling his controversial product.
“You’ve got two decisions standing and they conflict,” the judge noted. “That’s what the leave to appeal would resolve.”
For Schmidt, it means his battle with the province will live to see another day. “I’m tremendously happy the judge understood that it is of significant public interest to resolve this issue,” he said on the steps outside Osgoode Hall….”
“….Investigating and prosecuting Schmidt for almost two decades has cost millions. During one raid, 24 officers from five different government agencies searched his rural property. “Why are police forces raiding farms? Don’t they have better things to do than that?” he asked.
The irony is that the government doesn’t seem to have any problem with the sale and distribution of cigarettes, allowing consumers to decide for themselves on those health risks. But then, they earn a pretty penny from cancer sticks, and none on the sale of raw milk.
Taking up Schmidt’s cause pro bono is the Canadian Constitution Foundation, a registered charity. “We litigate for liberty,” explained lawyer Karen Selick.
In court, she quoted a study that found 88.7% of farmers report drinking raw milk. “Do consumers have the right to control what goes into their bodies?” Selick asked.
Now it will be up to the Ontario Court of Appeal to wade into that churning debate.”