Our Farm Our Food member Lewis Taylor spoke on behalf of the coop during the court proceedings on Monday June 5th. Here he is being interviewed by Mike Walker of CTV Barrie over lunch.
What turned out to be a four-day hearing into the application for injunctions against continued operation of a milk plant at Glencolton Farms and distribution of raw milk in the Regions of York, Peel and Simcoe, wrapped up late Monday afternoon.
In the morning, Lewis Taylor presented to the court on behalf of intervener, Our Farm Our Food Coop. Much of the afternoon was devoted to a presentation by farmer and respondent Michael Schmidt. This was then followed by about an hour of rebuttal by lawyers for the Regions and the Crown.
The judge has made no promises as to when he will announce his verdict in the case. Respondents will be notified of his decision by email.
More than 100 people — mostly members of the OFOF coop or other farmshares — were crammed into courtroom 401, which is smaller than courtroom 108 where the case began last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. But in an effort to accommodate all the people who showed up, the judge allowed audience members to occupy the jury benches as well as the spectator gallery.
A television reporter and cameraman from CTV Barrie was present throughout the morning. The reporter, Mike Walker, interviewed both Michael Schmidt and Lewis Taylor for the evening news.
You can watch Mike Walker’s CTV report online at this link.
Farmer Michael Schmidt being interviewed by Mike Walker, for the Monday night television news, prior to his presentation in Newmarket court on Monday afternoon, June 5th.
Markus, Elisa, and Michael with a stack of documents outside the Newmarket court house after day three. Elisa said she just wanted to go home and sleep, after presenting for most of the day.
Day three of the hearing of the injunction applications from Ontario Milk Director Gavin Downing, and the Region of York was devoted to presentations from the respondents — Elisa van der Hout (on behalf of the Agricultural Renewal Coop), Rev. Jonah Evans (on behalf of the Christian Community church) and Markus Schmidt (representing himself).
Michael Schmidt and Lewis (Skip) Taylor (speaking on behalf of Our Farm Our Food coop) will present their responses to the application on Monday June 5th.
Michael Schmidt will be appearing in another court later this week to answer obstruction charges related to the Oct. 2, 2015 raid on Glencolton Farms.
A more detailed report on what was said will follow later in this space, but for now, here’s a video from Marianne Else, about the day’s proceedings:
Also watch the video and read the report on day three from Roger Klein at CTV Barrie
Neither rain nor sleet nor day-long court hearings….
Today, Tuesday May 30th was another full day of presentations by the Crown lawyers (representing Milk Director Gavin Downing) and by the lawyers for York Region (also representing Peel and Simcoe regions).
Which means the hearing is not over yet. It continues with presentations from the several respondents, and from Our Farm Our Food Coop (OFOF) as intervener, on Wednesday May 31st — probably all day — and then if that’s not enough time, the judge may be able to find another half day somewhere in his schedule. He apparently doesn’t have any longer times available until 2018.
They Come From Away
You meet the nicest people at raw milk trials and hearings. Yesterday and today we had the opportunity to meet Raoul Bedi who is originally from Ontario, but has been living in BC, where he has been helping promote the raw milk cause. Raoul occasionally contribute material to the Bovine, such as this recent article on legal terms.
Also at this hearing we have Liz Reitzig from Maryland (or somewhere in New England). She’s here to help Michael with media relations and whatnot.
And at the hearing today we had a couple of journalists from England interviewing farm-share members. Perhaps they’ve come to document the unbelievably quaint customs out here in the former colonies — such as the official total prohibition on raw milk. Canada’s the only G8 country to have that, as you may have heard.
Yesterday, a raw milk farmer from the Ottawa area who has been in the news not long ago — Michael Ilgert — made the 4 1/2 hour trek to Newmarket to show his support.
In the News:
Read the York Region Media Group story on the hearing, by Lisa Queen who was here Monday to interview people.
Lewis (Skip) Taylor talks to a reporter from CTV during the lunch break.
About two hundred coop shareholders, supporters, and interested members of the public came out today to Newmarket court to hear the start of the application for injunctions regarding the Glencolton Farms raw milk operation.
Although the hearing was scheduled for 9:30 am, it was nearly 11 am by the time things got underway in earnest. Some of that first hour and a half was taken up with a motion from the lawyer for Ontario Milk Director Gavin Downing (subsequently referred to here as “the Crown lawyer”). This motion would have converted Our Farm Our Food Coop’s status at the hearing to that of a respondent (from being an intervener). Council for OFOF, Lewis (Skip) Taylor objected to the motion, saying he would need time to consult with the members, because the motion had been filed so late. The Crown lawyer decided not to pursue it further.
The lawyers for the Crown and for the Region of York agreed that the ARC Coop and the Christian Community church could be represented by non-lawyers. Elisa van der Hout will represent ARC, which is the workers coop at the farm, and Jonah Evans will represent the church.
Most of Monday was taken up by presentations by the lawyer for the Crown. Both he and the lawyer for York Region were to have finished their presentations today — which raises the question as to whether the proceedings will be finished on Tuesday as originally envisioned. Tuesday was to have been devoted to hearing from the respondents, and presumably some counter-arguments after that.
Two reporters were on hand to cover the proceedings. A York Region Media Group reporter was there in the morning, interviewing people outside the courtroom. And a reporter from CTV Barrie was present during the morning court proceedings. He stayed to interview Lewis Taylor, counsel for OFOF, Michael Schmidt and Elisa van der Hout, over lunch hour. Continue reading
Glencolton farmer Elisa van der Hout leads a group of OFOF farm-share members on a tour of the farm’s dairy barn in April of 2017.
The injunctions being sought at Newmarket Court next Monday and Tuesday may well be the final nail in the coffin of raw milk, if Ontario milk director Gavin Downing and the Region of York have their way.
The proposed injunctions would shut down the “milk plant” at Glencolton Farms, located about two hours northwest of Toronto, in Grey County near the town of Durham, and would also prohibit the continued distribution of raw milk from the farm to people in York Region. The injunctions would prohibit even advocating the consumption of raw milk. Simcoe Region and Peel Region have subsequently joined the injunction application, so people in those jurisdictions would also be affected, as well.
This farm has, in the past, faced numerous raw-milk-related charges, most recently arising from a raid in 2006. However, in the past, charges have been on the level of regulatory offenses. If the injunctions being sought are granted by the court, any continuation of these activities could result in criminal charges, not only for the persons named — Michael Schmidt, Elisa Van der Hout, and Markus Schmidt — but also for any John or Jane Doe, and for the Christian Community church which has been a distribution site. Continue reading
From David E. Gumpert, on the Complete Patient blog:
“After 23 years of unsuccessfully chasing down raw milk farmer Michael Schmidt via raids and court trials, the Ontario government seems finally to have settled on its version of the “nuclear” option: Its minions are seeking an injunction against the sale and purchase of raw milk, an action that could well have the effect of criminalizing all distribution and even consumption.
The injunction seems likely to be invoked by an Ontario judge next week after arguments next Monday and Tuesday, predicts Schmidt. The effects of the injunction will be immediately chilling, he explains, because implementation of the injunction will come with a proviso that Schmidt and the 150 members of his coop pay all legal and court costs associated with the government demand for the injunction, a cost that Schmidt has no illusions about: “I can guarantee you it is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”…” Continue reading
Video interview with Markus Schmidt (Michael Schmidt’s son) by Marianne:
The story below was originally published in the May 2017 edition of the Glencolton Moos (newsletter for Our Farm Our Food Coop members). It was written by Carl, who has been working in the administration at Glencolton Farms:
How far will we go to secure the future of local, healthful food in Canada? On May 28 and 29, Michael Schmidt, Elisa Vander Hout, Markus Schmidt, Agricultural Renewal Co-op (i.e., Glencolton Farms), Skip Taylor (representing Our Farm, Our Food Co-op [OFOF]), the Christian Community Church, many OFOF members, and many members of the wider community will be attending a court hearing that will decide the future of raw-milk drinking in Canada, and that will affect the whole small-scale farming community, as well as those who depend on it to get the food they want.
With this last point in mind, we here at Glencolton Farms want to emphasize that this court case is not just about unpasteurized milk. It is about the future of farming and small-scale agriculture as a way to obtain healthful, wholesome food that we feel proud to share with our families. It is about maintaining a connection with our local farmers so that each and every one of us knows where our food comes from, how it is grown, and what goes into growing it. Continue reading