Help us defend constitutional rights of raw milk consumers in Canada!
Raw milk consumers across Canada have spent decades peacefully trying to obtain raw milk from local farmers despite the threat of harassment from the authorities. Finally, some of us have stepped forward to tell the courts that our constitutional rights are being violated by laws restricting access to raw milk – a food that is perfectly legal to consume in Canada.
A January 2018 injunction against anyone “selling, delivering or distributing” raw milk in Ontario was the last straw, criminalizing peaceful citizens who want access to this safe, unprocessed food. So, with the encouragement of leaders from several cow-share communities in southwestern Ontario – we’ve mobilized!
We found a highly experienced lawyer to represent us on a partly pro bono basis, and his legal team has been building our case at lightning speed. In early February they served a Notice of Application against the Attorneys General of Ontario and Canada, on our behalf – 19 raw milk consumers and two raw milk producers, whose freedom of conscience or religion, and security of person, are being violated (under sections 2 and 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms).
All 21 of us applicants made this commitment despite financial risk, the ordeal of being cross-examined, and fear of the unknown consequences of taking on the Government. We did this not only based on our personal conviction, but on behalf of our raw milk communities and other consumers across Canada, who all stand to benefit from this constitutional challenge.
Please help us pay the legal bills: $100,000 during the next ten months. (Regardless of which side wins at the Ontario Superior Court, the decision could be appealed and ultimately the case may be decided by the Supreme Court of Canada. So next year, unless the case is settled, we will have to raise money for the next round.) Continue reading
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
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