Massive Raw Milk Rally in Newmarket

These two raw milk fans are not easily cowed.

Today’s court proceedings in Newmarket were merely the opening round in what promises to be a protracted legal process, the end result of which could be the effective criminalization of anyone in Ontario distributing, sharing or giving away raw milk to another person. Advocating raw milk would likewise become a criminal act under the injunctions being proposed by York Region Public Health, and by the Crown.

The record turnout of raw milk consumers and supporters at today’s rally — an estimated 250-300 men, women and children — underlines just how unpopular such a move would be with the constituency that would be most affected by the proposed injunctions. The courthouse security police, who know Michael Schmidt from the many times he’s come to this courthouse before, told him that “every time you come here, there are more people”.

Anecdotal evidence from young raw milk consumers.

Durham-area farmer Michael Schmidt has been a lightning rod for raw milk issues in this province since 1994, largely because he has been very open in the way he operated.

On many occasions over the years Michael has sought various avenues to legalize the much-in-demand product, whose production and sale in the province remains largely underground. But the response to Michael’s overtures has not yet led to any improvement in raw milk’s legal status.

In his talk, Michael praised other raw milk farmers for also “coming out of the closet”. For instance, Michael was not the farmer who brought a cow to today’s event and milked it in front of the crowd. But even this could be just a tip of the black market iceberg.

Nothing like a cow being milked to capture the raw milk spirit.

One of the attendees at today’s event was a (still closeted) farmer who serves the downtown Toronto market and said he has over 200 members in his cowshare operation. That’s nuch bigger than Glencolton.

A young women who was demonstrating at the rally said it’s easier to buy crack cocaine than raw milk, in Toronto these days — which would indicate that in spite of the thriving black market, the demand for raw milk is still far from satisfied.

American Celebrity Guests

David Gumpert, the well-known American blogger (The Complete Patient), and author of several books on raw milk, made the trek from New England to take part in today’s rally. Gumpert had also been on hand for Michael’s one legal victory — the historic and legendary January 2010 acquittal by Justice Kowalski.

American author David Gumpert in full tilt boogie mode.

In his talk at the rally today David noted that the way that acquittal was subsequently overturned in an appeal by the Crown, would never have been allowed under the American system of justice, where trying someone twice for the same offense is disallowed as “double jeopardy”.

David also noted that at the time Michael Schmidt started his fight for legal raw milk in Ontario, there were 25 states in the United States in which raw milk was allowed. But since then, 17 more have legalized it in some form, leaving only 7 states in which it remains prohibited. Likewise, among the G8 countries, Canada is the only one to prohibit raw milk.

Liz Reitzig, who hails from Maryland — one of those 7 remaining States that prohibit raw milk south of the border — also made the trip to Newmarket to take part in this rally. Liz has helped with publicity and promotion for Michael’s raw milk campaign in Ontario and helped promote this event through various channels including her blog, “Nourishing Liberty“.

What’s at Stake

While in the past the focus of raw milk prosecution has been on Michael Schmidt, the court process that started today would shift that focus of enforcement to any John Doe or Jane Doe — in effect, anyone — who distributes (which includes sharing or giving away) raw milk to another person or persons in the province, after the proposed injunctions come into effect, if in fact they are approved by the court.

Judging by the tentative schedule that was agreed in court today, it looks like that could happen as early as Sept. 27th, 2016. To the best of our understanding, criminalization means that any such person could be arrested, detained, jailed, fined and left with a criminal record. Also criminalized under the proposed injunctions would be continuing to operate what the Crown calls “a milk plant” without a license, such as, for instance, at Glencolton Farms. Counseling other people to consume raw milk would likewise be criminalized under the proposed injunctions.

Parties subject to charges under the injunction against operating a milk plant would be members and directors of the Agricultural Renewal Cooperative (ARC) which had taken over ownership of the operation from Michael Schmidt. Directors of ARC are specifically named in the proposed injunction, and include Michael Schmidt’s wife Elisa VanderHout, and his son Markus Schmidt.

The Christian Community Church, in the parking lot of which distribution of raw milk has been taking place, is named as one of the parties in the injunction put forward by York Region Public Health.

From “Nobody” to “Everybody” — ARC’s lawyer Devin Charney addresses the rally.

While Elisa and Michael will be defending themselves in court, Toronto lawyer Davin Charney has been retained to represent ARC, The Christian Community, and Markus Schmidt.

In recent years, Davin has come to prominence through taking on and winning the case of Adam Nobody, who was abused by police at the G20 demonstrations in Toronto in 2012.


Media on hand for the rally included a couple of independent filmmakers including Norman Lofts, maker of the first-ever documentary about raw milk and Michael Schmidt that aired on CBC Newsworld back in 2008.

Also on hand was a camera crew from Global TV who covered the rally and interviewed cowshare spokesperson Mascha Perrone, and other attendees.

Global TV crew interviews farmshare member Mascha Perrone.

Liane Kotler, the producer of the latest doc on Michael Schmidt and raw milk, was on hand throughout the proceedings. It was announced that her documentary — which includes footage from the recent Guelph Raw Milk Symposium in January — will air next Monday March 21, on Steve Paikin’s show “The Agenda”, on TV Ontario, at 8 pm and again at 11 pm, after which it may be available online on the TVO website.

What Can You Do?

Farmshare member makes a point during the rally

Michael has been talking to politicians at Queen’s Park and what they’ve told him is that if the government’s handling of raw milk is a problem for people, they (the Members of Provincial Parliament) need to hear about it from their constituents. So if this is a concern of yours, write to your MPP, call their office and keep writing and calling until you get satisfaction.

When in discussions with government, people were advised to talk about food rights, and freedom to choose, rather than arguing about whether or not raw milk is a healthier choice. People can decide that for themselves. What’s crucial is that government recognize the rights of individuals to make that decision for themselves and for their children.


Read David Gumpert’s take on the day’s events, on The Complete Patient blog.



Filed under News

26 responses to “Massive Raw Milk Rally in Newmarket

  1. The thing that I cannot ever get an answer from when I am speaking to the anti-raw milk side, is where all the raw milk deaths and outbreaks are in the countries where raw milk is legal. It’s legal in almost every country in the world, yet the public health crises that should be everywhere are non existent. I feel like that should be enough to prove the safety of raw milk, and end the debate.

    • just a reader

      Kevin, many countries do not have reporting systems for outbreaks. Look at Canada vs. the U.S. – the United States has the NORS system for states to report all food-borne outbreaks to the CDC. Canada has nothing similar. Hence, Health Canada looks to the CDC for information about outbreak rates.

      We often cite vending machines in Europe as being a reason why raw milk should be legalized in Canada – but public health officials read articles like this, about pathogens in Italian vending machines – think otherwise: and . And, closer to home, Steele-et-al’s 1997 study “Survey of Ontario bulk tank milk for foodborne pathogens.” (Journal of Food Protection, 60:1341–1346).

      In considering the question of legalization, governments also look at the study by Mungai, Behravesh, and Gould (2015) – – which concluded that as legalization increases, outbreaks increase. The BC government cited this last year as a reason why they have chosen not to legalize at this time, until we can provide peer-reviewed academic evidence otherwise, that legalization will not increase outbreak rates.

      What we learned from BC: If we want to get raw milk legalized in Canada, we need to convince government that it can produced in Canada consistently pathogen-free, that there must be training and certification. If herdshares don’t want governments to impose onerous regulations, then the herdshare sector needs to create an alternative, to display that it can self-regulate. We have our work cut out for us.

  2. Pingback: Big Demonstration Buoys Michael Schmidt in Ontario’s Latest Raw Milk Case - David Gumpert

  3. I see slaves begging their masters for permission. I did not see one sign demanding that their rights be both recognized and protected.

    • Peter

      I would have to qualify / expound on your statement by saying it is the job of the courts, enforced by the police, and not the job of the government to protect our rights. The government is merely obliged to respect our rights.

      • Greetings Peter!

        I wish I knew whether or not Canadians have first class inalienable Rights and whether or not they have an Organic Law that recognizes these Rights. Without such I’m inclined to completely understand the above stated observations of “InalienableWrights”. The way that things appear now – neither the “courts”, the police or “government” show any indications that they recognize true fundamental Rights so that they can distinguish between a “free inhabitant” and the equivalent of a “slave” by whatever name those individuals who are in servitude to government may be known as.

      • I hate to break it to you Peter but the police and the courts are the government. 🙂

        While government absolutely should respect our rights as it’s only legitimate purpose it to protect our rights. The police and the courts are arms of the government that should be used to that end and for nothing else.

      • Peter

        As a matter of principle, everyone, regardless of citizenship, has the same fundamental human (inalienable) rights. Thereafter it is a question of being able to defend them. Most of us delegate the defense of our rights to the state (your rights are only as good as your ability to defend them). And yes, Canada recognizes and endeavors to uphold and protect those rights! That those rights are not being protect by the state is, imo, a fundamental misconception. I would suggest the misconception stems from several things. The first is a misunderstanding of what a right is. The other is in the failure to appreciate the inherent jurisdiction of the government to protect the public, and the failure to appreciate the principled limitation of that jurisdiction. Individuals are, by default, assumed and presumed to be ‘the public’, subject to government protection (i.e. consumer protection laws). But, by virtue of our individual liberty, and the principle that a benefit cannot be conferred on one who is unwilling to accept it, we can opt out of that protection. The general problem is that we don’t opt out. No one tells us that we have a choice, even thought it exists.
        InalienableWrights has not yet grown to appreciate the governments legitimate role to protect the public. He has not yet appreciated the inherent conflict between the notion (he holds to) that one has an absolute right to sell to whoever he/she wants, and that a parent has the inherent right to protect his/her children.
        But then again, as InalienableWrights suggests, I am all that is wrong with the world, I don’t know right from wrong, I’ve been dumbed down by the state, don’t want to lift a finger to be educated, hold to satanic views. my views are the root cause of most of the strife in the world, suffer from cognitive dissonance, and am in a deep state of mind control. So beware of me! Buyer beware, so to speak 🙂

      • Peter

        @ InalienableWrights
        Some terms have different meanings, depending on their context.
        “The Government” is often used as an overarching term that does, in deed, entail the legislature, judiciary, and executive branches. In another context, however, “the government” refers to the legislative branch, occupied with governing public affairs. The later is what I was referring to. I’m sorry that was lost on you. I hope the above clarifies my original point.
        To appreciate how the state is structured to uphold and protect our rights, it is absolutely paramount to see the necessary separation of powers and function of those 3 branches! Failure to properly appreciate this will leave one feeling hopelessly lost, and cause one to label everything as “the government”, and suggest the courts are merely subject entities. This, in turn, will cause people to inevitably feel (and usually sound) like a victim.
        But then, you know all this already. Who am I to think you don’t know that already?

    • Level Headed

      The girl holding the sign “Get your dirty laws of our milk” states that position quite clearly — it is demanding that our right be recognized and protected.
      That being said, I would agree with you that we need to stress more in our signs and message, that this is in fact an inalienable right, freedom to choose, that needs protection.

      • thebovine

        Yes, I quite agree, which is why that’s the lead photo. Easily the best placard message of the day, IMHO.

    • just a reader

      @InalienableWrights — Rights in Canada are narrowly defined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If you want the court to rule against you, then go ahead and argue that you have rights that have not been recognized here. Just be prepared to pay the legal penalties. If you want Canadians to suffer the legal consequences of your advice, then go ahead and keep arguing this and more Canadians will get into legal trouble. Already in 2014, the top court of Ontario ruled that the charter does NOT protect our rights in this area – see R. v. Schmidt 2014 ONCA 188 at which ruled that there was NO violation of section 7 of the Charter. The Supreme Court of Canada then refused to hear an appeal. Arguing “rights” in court is now a dead end.

    • George

      “I did not see one sign demanding that their rights be both recognized and protected.”

      How about this one: GET YOUR DIRTY LAWS OFF MY MILK.


      Open your eyes.

  4. Lynn W.

    Carol, Bob, Billie and Lynn in the U.S. support Canadians’ rights to consume the food of your choice from the source of your choice! March on Ontario raw milk consumers, it is your right!

    • Lynn, words often reveal things that you may or may not be conscious of….

      I find the term “it’s your right” very disconcerting.
      Of course it is your right! You have ALL rights as long as you do not harm another in the process. That term ( “it’s your right”) seems to infer that you need some authority figure to tell you that it was your right. That you needed confirmation and permission that something is your right.

      That belief system totally contradicts what a right is. Rights are not given to us by government or authority figures. You are the sovereign not your government. Your government is your employee and servant, nothing more. Government gets it’s authority by you the sovereign delegating limited powers to it, not the other way around.

      I hope that you already knew this, but I know that many do not, so I had to make the point.

  5. Tom Johnston

    Okay. Seriously, folks: The injunction order requested does not criminalize every John and Jane Doe! That is flat out hyperbole.

    The John and Jane Doe in the application pertains to anyone involved in running/operating/promoting/assisting Glencolten Farms / ARC. It does not apply to other farms/farmers/operations. It does not apply to people merely picking up their milk! And it is not province wide!

    Don’t believe me? Read the application for yourself, or ask your lawyer to read it for you.

    And then when you realize (or your lawyer clarifies for you) the limited scope of the injunction requested, ask yourself: “Why the need for the hyperbole?”.

    And BTW, the notion that they are “criminalize mothers for selling/distributing/giving raw milk” is also pure hyperbole!

    If the injunction order is issued, and people continue to run/operate/promote/assist Glencolton Farms / ARC in moving milk, they may be in criminal contempt of court. So yes, if you are a mother, and you run/operate/promote/assist Glencolton Farms / ARC in moving milk, then that may be your fate. But this does not apply to the “farm share members” or mothers picking up milk for their children!!! And it does not criminalize others for doing it.

    Don’t believe me? Ask your lawyer.

    And then, when your lawyer clarifies for you how few “mothers” (Elisa?) may actually be caught by the (proposed) injunction, ask yourself: “Why the need for the hyperbole?”

    The only reason the government is applying for the injunction is because of Michael’s flagrant disregard for “civil discourse” and his “contempt of court”. Few, if any other farmers/producers/distributors out there have that kind of history to justify the government to apply for an injunction!

    For a man who value’s courage, Micheal sure seems to enjoy instilling and arousing fear by embellishing / exaggerating the facts (“Mothers!” “Criminal!” “everyone!” “our rights!” “children’s future!” “loose your farm!”, etc.). Maybe by doing this, he can feel special because he’s the only one who appears to be with courage. Or maybe he can arouse more support. I don’t know… I see those as possible explanations for his need to make you afraid by massaging the facts/story/message. I’m open to other suggestions about why he has this need to do it. But doing it he evidently does!

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying he shouldn’t be dishonest. He’s welcome to it. But can we (the rest of us here) at least be honest with ourselves and each other, and then call a spade a spade?

    • rawmilkwar

      Tom ( if that is the real name)????
      Your last sentence is hilarious
      BE HONEST!!!!!!
      What a sentence indeed.
      Do your proper investigative work first before using court papers verbatim at face value.
      CBC now requires that only those who verify their name can comment on their articles.
      I think that should be policy in general. Too many weirdos like to be taken seriously but only when hiding their identity.
      Michael schmidt

      • Peter

        In the court of public opinion, one only needs to assert something. There is no requirement to substantiate. The consuming public is generally very gullible and is content with ‘trust’. And so if you assert, but there is evidence to the contrary, is it no incumbent on you to substantiate your claims? To those who trust you, probably not. But to those who question, I would say you you.
        When someone dares to question the validity of your unsubstantiated assertions, and points to contradictory evidence, you resort to the issue of the messenger, rather than the substance/issue at hand. That is, of course, your prerogative. But your avoidance to deal with the substance seems to act as an attempt to re-direct/distract, and hence suggests that maybe there is validity to the claim of hyperbole.

      • Tom Johnston

        You are right. I take that back. You are an honest man.

      • Tom Johnston

        BTW, no need to take me seriously. Buyer beware… Or, should we regulate speech, under the auspices of consumer protection?

      • moosemeadows

        Are you still trying use that one? We all know who is posting here. Why be so disengenous? Why even make an issue of it?

        Instead, you could speak to the comments. They are not comments that would be considered “troll”, which is likely why CBc made such a policy. Because they simply don’t have the labor to moderate the hundreds of comments they get. This is entirely a different situation then the CBC.

        Are you suggesting that Tom’s comments are off base? Perhaps you could be so kind as to post these documents yourself for all to read. And let people assess things for themselves.

  6. Level Headed

    The last paragraph is an important one:
    “When in discussions with government, people were advised to talk about food rights, and freedom to choose, rather than arguing about whether or not raw milk is a healthier choice. People can decide that for themselves. What’s crucial is that government recognize the rights of individuals to make that decision for themselves and for their children.”

    • just a reader

      My advice is to organize as a provincially-based agricultural sector organization, which then requests meetings with the two relevant Ministers. If a Minister does not have time to meet, then ask if another person in their Ministry (DM? ADM? Executive Director?) can meet with you. Find out from them directly what their concerns are, what their conditions would be for legalization. Anything else is purely guess-work.

      And, related to this: Asking for a meeting with the Premier accomplishes nothing other than getting publicity – Premiers have already delegated decision-making to their Cabinet Ministers when assigning their portfolios to them. Demanding a meeting with a Premier on a policy issue not only insults the Minister responsible – implying that they are incompetent – but also insults the Premier by implying that he/she made a poor choice in the Cabinet appointment. Not the best way to start off government negotiations …

  7. sawoodt

    The conversation on this post is interesting. Onne over arching concept that I realize Michael has been very clear on, is that he would like clear laws that uphold and provide access to SAFE and nourishing, raw/natural milk for the consumer…. not just for the informed and educated consumer, but for everyone. He has never hidden his operation, nor taken it underground. For 24 years (hopefully, I have that right) … 24 years, he has openly advised the government of his raw/natural milk activities; and has tried to, and continues to try to, establish an open dialogue with the government.
    Unfortunately, the legalization of natural milk is neither a priority for the Canadian or provincial government, nor the public at large. It is an issue fundamentally misunderstood by many. The health issue is misunderstood by many. (I am not going further into that issue, only because it is so large and not the point in this response, not because of the last paragraph in the above article!) Additionally, the Milk Marketing Board has an unjust and invasive monopoly, that considers a processing plant anywhere milk processing takes place. Their definition of processing could include an individual using milk as an ingredient in making a milk shake or hot chocolate. Where do they or the courts get to decide where the line is drawn to make the processing illegal? What if I kept telling the government that my child was distributing milkshakes at the end of our drive way, for 25 cents? Is there room for interpretation?
    Whether or not Michael’s approach is seen as asking the authorities for permission, and not asserting one’s inalienable rights (in conjunction with not harming another), is perhaps, at this time, only a philosophical (yet not invaluable) debate. Two paths, Frost wrote, diverged in the woods … but, perhaps, both paths can lead to the same place if the focus is for what is good.*
    * If the word “good” is controversial, keep in mind that words (theories, humans) are limited, and what one is trying to say (do, live for) is more important.

  8. Pingback: Canadian Dairy Farmers See Support from Community - A Campaign for Real MilkA Campaign for Real Milk

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