Tag Archives: legal
Raw Milk Drinkers in Ontario Seek to Raise $100,000 to Challenge Injunction that Criminalizes Raw Milk Distribution
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
No More Raw Milk for Coop Members due to Injunctions Granted to Shut Down “Milk Plant” and “Distribution”
Members of Our Farm Our Food Coop are in a tight spot due to injunctions granted January 5th to Ontario Milk Director Gavin Downing and the Regions of York, Simcoe and Peel.
In short these injunctions would shut down the “milk plant” at Glencolton Farms and also criminalize continued “distribution” of raw milk in the Regions of York, Simcoe and Peel. The injunctions apply to anyone who has knowledge of the court ordered injunctions, so potentially these apply not just to the operations of Glencolton Farms and the Our Farm Our Food Coop (OFOF) but to any raw milk suppliers or cowshare groups.
One of the few media reports on the injunction that has appeared so far, has been a story in the Owen Sound Sun Times, titled “Court Stops Raw Milk Work“. It remains to be seen whether Milk Director Gavin Downing or representatives of any of the Regions (York, Simcoe, Peel) which asked for the injunctions, will take steps to publicize them, now that they have been granted by the court. Because, after all, the injunctions only apply to those who have knowledge of them.
In his 25 page ruling, Justice Sutherland said that the injunction originally asked for by the Regions was overbroad and that the injunction which he granted more closely followed the wording of the Health Protection and Promotion Act and the Milk Act. Continue reading
Michael Schmidt was sentenced November 6th to 60 days of jail time for obstruction of a peace officer. Citizen Beverly Viljakainen raises some questions about whether justice was done in the court proceedings leading up to that judicial ruling.
The case has been widely reported on in the news media. Here are links to a few recent media reports:
SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO’S DIFFICULTIES WITH DAIRY FARMER MICHAEL SCHMIDT
by Beverley Viljakainen, November 11 , 2017
1. Why, during the 2017 obstruction of a peace officer trial, were erased e-mails between the chief investigator of the 2015 raid on Glencolton Farms and the arresting officer of the local municipal police unit deemed by Justice Minard to be irrelevant when he supposedly had no way of knowing what they contained? This when both correspondents knew they would be laying obstruction charges and in no way considered the case closed. It is quite possible that the contents of these e-mails would have provided evidence crucial to the defence’s case, especially given that the arresting officer was under the erroneous impression that the five men eventually charged were members of an organization called Freemen of the Land, information possibly used to obtain the search warrant. When the defence questioned the grounds upon which the warrant was obtained, the Justice disallowed it, saying that Mr. Schmidt was on a “fishing expedition” and wasting valuable court time.
2. Why, after several months of a criminal trial supposed to get at the truth, did someone at the Walkerton Court House instruct the Offenders Transport driver, who was taking now-convicted offender Michael Schmidt to prison in Penetanguishene, to advise its staff that Mr. Schmidt was a Freeman of the Land when there is absolutely no evidence to support this claim? The admittance staff member greeted Mr. Schmidt with, “So you are a Freeman of the Land” and readily explained how he had come to know. Continue reading
On his Complete Patient blog, David E. Gumpert has published a comprehensive roundup of the state of the two pending legal cases regarding raw milk at Glencolton Farms:
“In one action, Schmidt and Elisa VanderHout face the threat of court proceedings from an injunction to “enforce” the ban on “distribution” of raw milk. Michael and his wife, Elisa, argue that the milk act does not apply to the shared ownership arrangement that governs the operations at Glencolton Farms.
The submissions for the injunction case are over. A ruling from the judge could come any day on whether or not he will grant the injunction from York Region and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture. If granted, the ruling will move the prosecution into criminal proceedings (contempt of court) to any farmers, mothers, community leaders, etc. who participate in a milk drop or handle raw milk for human consumption. In the case of Glencolton Farms, the farm is a cooperative structure, which means that many members own the farm and benefit from everything that the farm produces. This case in Canada is an important one to watch as the ruling—either way–will significantly affect what foods Canadians have access to and how the regulatory agencies and courts will target individual farmers and producers.
In a second and more dramatic case, Schmidt continues his trial on the charges of obstruction of a peace officer . These charges, against Michael and originally four other men, stem from the raid on Glencolton Farms by Glenn Jarvie and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food in October 2015. During the raid, the government confiscated computers and some documents before 80 farm owners, friends and neighbours showed up and blocked the driveway. Farm members stood in the cold driveway at the farm, blocking the government vehicles from leaving as long as the trucks had the farm owners’ property in them. Only five people were charged. Over the course of the hearings for the obstruction charges, all were dropped except the charges against Schmidt and two other defendants.
Schmidt provided a recent video update where he speaks about the bureaucratic mishaps that have him labeled as a Canadian “terrorist,” in the words of at least one law enforcement person involved in the court proceedings. The irony of this is that Michael is a firm advocate of peaceful resistance. The entire time Michael has stood up for his rights as a farmer and for the rights of consumers to procure the foods of their choice from the producer of their choice, he has done so with an emphasis on non-violence.
Just after he gave that update, Schmidt was back in court. During that court proceeding, after a particularly agitated exchange between the defendants and the judge, a spectator left the courtroom and said aloud that the court proceedings were not seeking the truth or justice. This led to the court police assaulting the man, giving him injuries that led to his being taken to the hospital where he was released after treatment later that day. Schmidt provided another video update about the incident….”
The obstruction trial is set to continue in Walkerton on July 28th, August 4th and August 25th of 2017.
Contrasting Ontario Laws and Acts about Raw Milk in Courts with other Major Jurisdictions (Part 2)
by Raoul Bedi, BASc
I – Introduction :
Last week we listed some of the major acts, laws and regulations being cited by Crown Lawyers in the latest manifestions, in the form of the 2 applications listed below, in the never-ending case(s) against Organic Raw Milk and its adherents, consumers, supporters, co-op members, farmers and producers in Ontario and Canada. For brevity’s sake we gave only the relevant sections from the Ontario Milk Act and Milk Regulations to begin with .
We then observed, in Newmarket Court, the Crown Lawyers for Gavin Downing, director for the Milk Act, and the York Region Municipality, systematically work through all of those major acts, one by one in great detail, stating first which sections were violated, what they say and mean, and then the evidence (from myriad affidavits, discovery and testimony) to support their claims of violation, and punishment(s) sought.
In addition to all the Acts and Regulations listed last week and again today, the Crown’s Legal team consisting of 4-5 lawyers, also cited 6-10 examples of Case Law which we will not list here. Of interest was the fact that they cited case law from England to justify the enforcement of certain bureaucratic regulations, and the need for concomitant restraining orders where they have been continually violated.
The SUPREME IRONY here is that they failed to cite the most important Laws and Statutes of all , from the United Kingdom , namely that Fresh, Organic Raw Milk from Grass-fed cows is 100% legal and freely available from Her Majesty the Queen’s homeland . Please see https://www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/farmingfood/dairy-guidance/rawmilkcream#toc-4
How can this be one might ask ? Continue reading
“This June the trial of Ontario dairy farmer Michael Schmidt and three other farmers for obstructing a police officer will resume. The charge stems from a 2015 raid of Schmidt’s Glencolton Farms where members of a food cooperative obtaining raw milk products and other foods from Schmidt stopped police from confiscating those foods.
The province of Ontario and local government authorities have been prosecuting Schmidt since 1994 for distributing raw milk, spending millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money in the process. The sale and distribution of raw milk have remained illegal throughout this entire time in all Canadian provinces. It’s interesting to contrast the provinces’ refusal to change laws on raw milk sales with legal developments in the U.S. over the past 23 years.
While provincial and local governments have been wasting millions of dollars since 1994 in prosecuting Schmidt, 16 states in the U.S. have either legalized the sale and/or distribution of raw milk or increased access to it through changes in statute, regulation, or policy. The states are Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Continue reading
by Beverley Viljakainen
Three of the five men charged with obstructing a peace officer during the October 2, 2015 raid on Glencolton Farms comprised the defence at the trial that began in Walkerton on March 6, 2017: Robert Pinnell, Michael Schmidt and John Schnurr, each representing himself. Robert Pinnell was acquitted during the second week of proceedings and the trial was adjourned on March 23 until additional dates and court space can be arranged, to be finalized on April 12. It is anticipated that another three days will be needed, the judge’s ruling to be handed down thereafter.
As one of Michael’s witnesses, I was unable to be in the courtroom until after I testified, but I did spend some time in the waiting room in support of those inside. The rather large police presence, both inside and outside the courtroom, was not missed on anyone. Each day there were usually four OPP uniformed officers, heavily armed at the waist, sitting or standing across the back of the courtroom, while three others sat in a small meeting room adjacent to the waiting room until it was their turn to relieve those inside. It felt like a very them-us situation and I began to wonder if they felt safer in there? Was it a status thing? Were we who were waiting in the larger area the proverbial ‘other’ to them? Suffice it to say that, for me, it was a very strange way for a police officer to spend his or her working day and there were a lot of them having to do just that. Continue reading