Michael Schmidt legal news roundup

Lawyer Derek From and farmer Michael Schmidt hold a news conference on the steps of Osgoode Hall in Toronto February 5th. The results of the appeal are not expected to be announced soon.

Farmer and activist Michael Schmidt has more than one legal controversy on the go. A couple of weeks ago Michael was in the news for taking Ontario raw milk case to Ontario’s highest court. 

On February 5th, 2014, a panel of three judges at the Ontario Court of Appeal at Osgoode Hall in Toronto heard arguments from Michael Schmidt and his Canadian Constitution Foundation lawyer, Derek From, as to why his 2011 convictions on raw milk charges should be overturned. The charges on the same ones on which Michael was acquitted in January of 2010. They stemmed from a November 2006 raid on his dairy farm in Durham Ontario.

About a month ago you may have seen news stories that were circulating on social media to the effect that raw milk was now legal and Michael Schmidt had been acquitted. And wasn’t that good news and about time? While that was a true story and a real news report, the story was from January of 2010. There’s been a lot of raw milk under the bridge since then. It’s a mystery as to why people suddenly started circulating it again. But it was a nice thought while it lasted.

Just a few short months after the events reported in that story — the 2010 acquittal of Michael Schmidt by Justice Kowarsky — the Ontario government appealed the decision. That appeal by the Crown led to Justice Tetley’s 2011 conviction of Michael on many of the same charges, and to his subsequent sentencing to $9,150 in fines and costs in the summer of 2011.

Not long after that, Michael’s lawyer Karen Selick (litigation director of the Canadian Constitution Foundation) requested leave to take the case to the highest court in the Province. Leave was granted. And that appeal was finally heard on February 5th, 2014.However, it will be weeks if not months before a verdict is announced. But if Michael loses this appeal, there is still a possibility that the Supreme Court of Canada would agree to hear the case.

One of the key arguments made by the appellant (Mr. Schmidt) in the Feb. 5th appeal, is that the current laws are an infringement of people’s right to security of the person, as guaranteed in Section 7 of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Michael argued that people feel they need raw milk for their health and well being, and they’re willing to take the risks involved.

Crown lawyers on the other hand, argued that raw milk is by its nature an inherently hazardous substance and that raw milk drinkers pose a risk of second-hand infection to society. Michael’s lawyer countered that past Crown lawyers didn’t seem worried about shaking the hand of Michael Schmidt, in spite of the fact that he was a known raw milk drinker.

It’s anyone’s guess how many more years it will take before the status of raw milk in Ontario is settled. Meanwhile, Michael’s lawyer estimated in court that some 50,000 Ontario residents drink raw milk obtained through black market channels.

Regardless of the outcome of the appeal, one positive outcome for raw milk is that the media exposure raises questions for more people every time raw milk is in the news. This time a Google news search showed 43 major news outlets carrying the story a couple of days after the appeal hearing.

A poll in the Toronto Sun showed 86% of people favoured legalizing raw milk. That’s in line with the results of other polls over the years. So it would seem that raw milk is winning the public relations war, if not yet the legal battle.

By Michael Schmidt’s reckoning, his raw milk struggle in Ontario has been going on for 20 years now. That’s since what he calls the first raw milk war in 1994, the one that cost him half his farm.

Michael is also involved in another food rights controversy in Ontario regarding a flock of rare heritage sheep. These Shropshire sheep belonging to Montana Jones went missing the day before the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) was planning to kill them for testing. Although the sheep were eventually found, killed, and tested negative for the suspected scrapie disease, Montana, Michael and two others face charges of conspiracy, related to that disappearance, that could land them in prison.

Recently the CFIA has been arguing in court that Michael must get a different lawyer because the CFIA speculate that there may in future be a conflict of interest if he persists in using BC lawyer Shawn Buckley.

Word is that the CFIA is asking for a four week trial for the case. Perhaps they have a lot of evidence to present. Pre-trial documents already stack to four feet. Michael has been unable to travel, until very recently, due to bail condition restrictions in the sheep conspiracy case.

Michael is also involved in a raw milk case in B.C. regarding the cowshare farm formerly known as “Home on the Range” but more recently reconstituted as “Our Cows”.


Filed under News

5 responses to “Michael Schmidt legal news roundup

  1. It is the opinion of the CACL Canadian Anti Corruption League that the real problem with government interference into our rights and freedom is corruption of the worst kind. These bumbling idiots keep pressing the phony issue of food safety when the issue is the right of every citizen to access the quality of food that they deem to be correct for their circumstance. Raw Milk is our basic human right as well as other high density quality food.
    The fight that Michael Schmidt is engaged in is about our rights and it has pointed out most definitely the corrupt and officious bullying of the government agencies. Take for instance the armed swat team raid on the farm when they laid the charges. There was no indication historically of any violence or threat of violence with regard to Michael Schmidt. It is the position of the CACL that this action could have been performed by a member of the police, buck naked with a donut in one hand (for comfort) and the badge in the other hand and the results would have been the same. Only the cost would have been greatly reduced. The police and the government have to get it through their corrupt little minds that the public is not impressed with this type of (show of force) on our hard working citizens.
    The Canadian Anti Corruption League is in favour of allowing access to raw milk for those that wish to consume it as part of their health regimen. It is after all our basic right to this freedom to nourish out bodies without government interference.
    This brings us to the goal of the CACL since some time ago we realized that being nice to government and brain dead officials will not get us any respect as the past 22 years has proven. CACL will work from the top down and we will get these rights and possibly within now and the next federal election. This is not a one person job, if it was I would have given you the right to raw milk last year. IF A PERSON WISHES TO BE KNOWN AND RESPECTED FIRST THEY HAVE TO STAND TALL. The leader of the CACL is Royce Hamer a person very familiar with corruption, at age 26 he took on the police department that he was employed with as a constable and with some help from citizens of integrity and honour was able to clean up a corrupt mess that had been festering for many years. Royce has been involved in politics at the executive level and during this time they were successful in three elections. In a nutshell Royce has a keen knowledge of government corruption, politics, and is a proven fighter of this darkness known as corruption.
    I for one moment you feel that this is a waste of time remember that the Mulroney Conservatives were decimated and left with only 2 seats after the voters got tired of his corrupt ways. David Peterson was turfed after one term by the voters and Bob Rae was thrown out after one term for similar reasons. Then the Bloc in Quebec was smashed by the NDP in the last federal election. There is nothing to it just join up and make a difference.
    This quote comes from an in depth investigation of Canadian politics by two Canadian Universities.
    McGill Queens University

    • william

      Michael Schmidt has every right to milk and drink raw milk. In most cases it is safe. But as soon as he milks a cow and sells it to someone. The onus of safety is at question. Will Mr. Schmidt feel responsible for someone else’s illness or death if it were linked to drinking his raw milk?
      Salmonella, Listeria, q-fever to name ailments found in my barn and in my milk……..

  2. The CACL Canadian Anti Corruption League has a policy for all agriculture in Canada that will ensure our place on the planet as a true leader in sustainable farming. Most of my readers do not need to be told or taught that the strongest medicine you will ever take in your lifetime is the food you eat and the water you drink. This has been known since Ancient Greece and has been practiced my huge percentages of the population ever since.
    Our problems today stem from the takeover of agriculture by the multinational corrupt corporations that control the science and morals of those that are vested with protecting the Citizens of Canada from dangerous products and systems. Time and time again we have witnessed the destruction of land and family lives as the industrialization of agriculture progresses into a cesspool of corruption and destruction. This corruption must be stopped and those responsible must be brought to account one way or another.
    The Canadian Anti Corruption League visualizes a Canada that is the Organic Bread Basket of the world. Through education, funding, and introduction of laws based on true science and moral responsibility we will one step at a time encourage these changes. The science is already in place and there is a ground swell of dedicated persons willing to embrace the delivery of quality non polluted and nutritionally dense food to the masses. CACL will assist by communication, funding, and education with honour and integrity see that Canadians have access to this quality of food.
    As leader of CACL I can visualize people of the planet seeking the words on their food packaging be it a box or a bag the words (Grown In Canada under Organic Supervision) or words to that effect. It will not take long for the trend to become viral and we Canadians will not be alone in this market but we will be the first and we will be leaders in honesty and quality food.
    Your job is to read up on our platform, make suggestions, form associations and get involved no matter how miniscule. This is not a one man quest but it will affect every person on the planet if we support this honourable project. Visit our Facebook page and our web site and join up so that CACL can be a Citizen Political force to be reckoned with in all matters of fighting corruption. View us at http://www.canadiananticorruptionleague.org. We have may platforms on a host of topics all need to be addressed in order to make Canada a proud and leading country. We have a population that excels in honour, integrity and honesty all we need is to recognize the serious issues in corruption and the willingness to hold those guilty accountable for the world to see and follow. Blessings to all Royce Hamer

  3. Rob

    I think it might be better to use the terms “fresh or real milk” in your various battles. Don’t use “raw” as it has a strange connotation. Mention the fact that humans have been drinking milk directly from various animals for many years. This battle is not about health, it is about corporate dominance of agricultural distribution.

  4. william

    I thought the issue is of liability not so much the public health. We live in a society of “insurance”. If someone gets sick, who is going to pay for the expenses. Who is going to be blamed. If someone sells raw milk “legally” thus inheriting the liability of that person’s well being.
    OMAF understands and enforces safe milk handling. If those procedures are followed and documented then the “farmer” holds no liability to a suspect illness.
    Not saying raw milk is bad for you not saying commercially pasteurized milk is better either. What I am saying: government intervention is here to protect those who ‘trust’ a staple product such as milk. Just as do people trust our highways are properly maintained…….

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