Raw milk gets its day in court — Feb. 5, Michael Schmidt at Osgoode Hall

The Bovine reports:

Snow falls as farmer Michael Schmidt and Canadian Constitution Foundation lawyer Derek James From answer reporters’ questions on the steps of Osgoode Hall, during a lunch break Wednesday.

More than 100 raw milk supporters from across the province made the trek through stormy weather to Toronto’s Osgoode Hall to hear the third-round appeal in Michael Schmidt’s raw milk saga last Wednesday Feb. 5th.

It had been snowing all night, piling up a good half a foot of snow, and as we drove down the Don Valley Parking Lot we heard on the radio that travel times across the city were doubled or tripled due to road conditions. At one point around Eglinton Ave., a lightly loaded pickup skidded sideways in our lane but miraculously didn’t hit any other vehicles. Of course, unlike us, the farmers from the countryside — the ones with two and three hour drives —  made it there on time.

When we arrived, just a little before the mid-morning recess, we were ushered into the second courtroom (to hold the overflow crowd from the first) where we could watch the proceedings on a large TV screen. The screen was divided into four, one part for the presenting lawyer, and one for each of the three judges. During the break, Michael Schmidt was greeted by a steady stream of supporters, who were lining up to shake his hand and wish him well.

Court resumed at 11 with more presentation from Michael’s Canadian Constitution Foundation lawyer Derek From. Michael had started things off in the morning with a 20 minute presentation and Derek had taken it from there. While Derek had a presentation planned, he had to totally rearrange it to respond to the many questions posed by the three Justices. In contrast to Michael’s earlier raw milk trials, this level of judicial interjection and questioning was something quite novel.

CCF lawyer Derek From with Michael Schmidt in front of a surprising shrine deep in the labyrinthine bowels of Osgoode Hall — five framed portraits of cows set atop a shelf of artificial grass.

Shortly after the court recessed for lunch, Michael was approached by a CBC TV reporter who told him that her camera crew had been waiting outside all morning to interview him. Several other TV and radio journalists were also there for the noon media scrum on the steps of Osgoode Hall. Snow was still falling as the reporters asked their questions.Then it was down to the cafeteria for a bite to eat and more conversations with raw milk enthusiasts.

In addition to being the location of Ontario’s highest court, the Court of Appeal, at which Michael’s case was being heard, Osgoode Hall is home to the Law Society of Upper Canada, an organization so conservative that it didn’t even change its name to recognize Confederation.

Michael Schmidt chatting with supporters over lunch at the Osgoode Hall cafeteria.

After lunch it was back to court where we listened to three Crown lawyers argue against raw milk, talking about how Michael really WAS operating a milk plant, how raw milk drinkers pose a hazard to others by way of spreading germs, and how the concluding disclaimers — about how the authors could not recommend consumption of raw milk — were really the most important part of the Gabriella and Parsifal studies. Those are the studies from Europe from 2006 and 2011 which find a correlation between raw milk and a lack of allergies in children.

They went on to argue that it’s impossible to eliminate pathogens from dairy farms and that differences in farm management practices don’t achieve a relevant reduction in pathogen levels and that there’s no way to eliminate e-coli from dairy cows. As for how some people get sick from pasteurized milk — that’s because of post pasteurization contamination.

The government position was stated that we don’t need to wait for an epidemic because we know that raw milk is an inherently dangerous food. Michael’s cowshare arrangement was likened to a Costco membership. The Crown lawyers argued that the word “public” in the HPPA (Ontario’s Health Protection and Promotion Act) does definitely include the members of Michael’s cowshare.

Michael Schmidt raises a glass of raw milk with supporters during the after-party at “Hogwarts”.

In his rebuttal, following the Crown presentation, Derek From reiterated his earlier argument that Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was meant to incrementally evolve, and should apply to this case. He pointed to the many cowshare members in attendance and how that showed the level of concern people have over this issue — how they view it as essential to the security of their persons. He estimated there were 50,000 cowshare members in Ontario.

Derek From reminded that court that in spite of the transmission of disease argument, previous prosecuting lawyers had no qualms about shaking Michael Schmidt’s hand in the court room even though he was a known raw milk drinker, and presumably therefore a carrier and a spreader of dangerous pathogens.

After the court proceedings concluded, around 5 pm, about 40 or so raw milk supporters walked with Michael about 10 blocks to the Hart House pub for drinks and discussion. Thanks to Raoul Bedi for organizing that.

We won’t learn, for many weeks or perhaps months, what the outcome of the judges’ deliberations will be in this case. But according to lawyer Derek From, there is a possibility to apply to take the case to the Supreme Court of Canada, should Michael Schmidt lose this appeal. But just as this appeal of Justice Tetley’s 2011 conviction required the prior approval of the court, so would taking it to the Supreme Court be dependent on that court’s evaluation of the case.

Beginning the long journey home after the day’s festivities.


Filed under News

7 responses to “Raw milk gets its day in court — Feb. 5, Michael Schmidt at Osgoode Hall

  1. That was quite an experience from several viewpoints. I was not able to hear all the arguments due to the quality of the speakers and my hearing loss but I did feel that some of the arguments should have been minimized and focus on the rights of Canadians to make choices without government bullying. As most of you know this is not about raw milk or health issues but about corrupt cronyism in protecting the processing industries and the issue of power hungry civil servants getting pleasure out of financial torture of Canadian Citizens.
    The food processors fear farm gate sales due to the natural choice of people to access quality high density food. Foor that the processors can never deliver due both to processing and their profit motives. WHAT IS THE SOLUTION. Since Michael Schmidt is fighting this from the grass roots and the government has nothing really to fear the obvious solution is to support also the CACL Canadian Anti Corruption League. We back Michael 100% or more and we will soon become a political entity that will fight these corrupt people from the top down. It will be a classical military maneuver called the pinscher movement. Squash them from both sides. CACL will always have the freedom of choice for the citizens of Canada as part of our platform and I urge you to go to our web site. http://www.canadiananticorruptionleague.org and view our platform and make comments both on the blog and our Facebook page. Please also click like if you are so inclined as it all shows support as is joining up to be part of our wonderful movement. PS I dislike the word political as I wish to be know as superior management of the peoples assets. Please keep supporting Michael Schmidt and our fight for personal freedom in what we put in our bodies. Blessings and Best wishes: Royce hamer Leader CACL the future of Canada.


    The Infection theory has been disproven by scientists in Australia. The reason e-coli are becoming harmful to humans is, that feedlot fattening of beef causes the cattle’s bodies to become acidic, which in turn causes e-coli normally living on an alkaline environment to become acid tolerant. Therefore, the human body’s digestive tract, which would render e-coli harmless i.e. destroyed, is now no longer able to do this to the now acid resistant strain. Dairy cattle are not subjected to feedlot conditions and their e-coli bacteria are therefore harmless to humans. BTW, inactive tuberculosis bacteria are harboured within a healthy human being and are a valuable asset, because when a tumour grows within a body, these iactive TB bacteria multiply at the same rate of the tumour growth and become activated by the command of the brain upon resolution of the biological conflict to remove this tumour and affect a healing. Thus, “cancer”, which is a Significant Biological Special Program of Nature, is NOT designed to kill, but to help an individual over a crisis and is an inherant part of this Special Program.
    http://learninggnm.com/documents/testimonials.html .

  3. After 900 votes , over 85% in the current Toronto Sun poll believe that (properly prepared) Raw Milk should be allowed to purchased . Take the Toronto Sun poll here : http://www.torontosun.com/2014/02/05/raw-milk-battle-hits-ontarios-top-court

  4. I came to watch this appeal for it’s human rights aspects, (since I still haven’t had this legendary milk), and to observe the private law system at that level. I was pleased to shake Michael’s hand finally and am grateful for his service to us all. I picked up a guide to self-representing in their clerk’s office and learned that the usual and main focus in cases there is not to argue the ‘facts’ or even to enter new evidence (permission must be asked). One’s best approach is to convince the tribunal that the trial judge had made mistakes procedurally or substantively. Statute law is not challenged at this level since oaths are made to the owners of the club that built the very nice building for the meeting. I had a cheap seat without the pitcher of water, (one pew row up), but appreciated the subtle curve of the oak trim and the ledge for elbowing on. I saw they were also willing to allow me into their law library…but of course I would never carry government ID. A fine day for me…I enjoyed dressing up and swaggering around in my jacket and long trenchcoat…pretending to be a ‘somebody’.

  5. charles jasunas

    Please join CACL right now. I did and Royce is a hero too because he’s stepping on big toes to fight coruption and this is a dangerous job.

  6. chuck mitchell

    i went to the hearing, it was deja vu for me. three years ago I moved to Ontario from Vermont with my Canadian wife. I had a legal micro dairy selling raw milk. I sold my cows there for obvious reasons. Last year Vermont passed legislation to enhance the selling of raw milk. it took six years and two attempts in the legislature. I also went to those hearings. Legislation was ultimately passed after fierce opposition from the usual groups. Lots of studies were presented as to the risk of raw milk but the opponents of the bill did not and could not present health data to confirm that there was(is) an actual health problem. Thus legislation was passed. The Schmidt hearing crown attorneys presented NO data as to any existing health problems. Ontario to get a law passed needs to find a few sympathetic MP”s and introduce good legislation and take the fight there. i think it can be done.

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