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
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
Once again, food rights are on trial in the province of Ontario. Ontario’s Milk Director and York Public Health are asking the court to criminalize the production and distribution and advocating of raw milk.
Previously these had been merely regulatory offenses and advocating had not been an offense at all — merely the exercise of freedom of speech. If the requested injunctions are granted they will become criminal offenses, and those convicted of them will have a criminal record. We’re talking distributing or advocating for raw milk. Does that sound like the Canada you know and love?
Seventy members of the Our Farm Our Food Co-op (the latest incarnation of the farmshare organization of families who organize to help make it possible for raw milk to be produced at Glencolton Farms) have signed affidavits to be presented in court, attesting to the importance of raw milk in their lives.
Those affidavits are in support of a request to the court from the Our Farm Our Food Coop to be granted intervener status in the proceedings. Parties named in the proposed injunctions include Michael Schmidt, the Agricultural Renewal Coop (a workers coop of people who run the farm) and the Christian Community Church (where the milk has been distributed in Thornhill) as well as any John or Jane Doe who deals in raw milk, transports it, or advocates it.
There will be a motion before the Court — The Ontario Superior Court of Justice at 50 Eagle St. in Newmarket, right across from the Town Hall — to convert the application for approval of the injunctions, to an action. If that motion is granted, it would mean that the case could be heard by a jury rather than by a judge.
Michael Schmidt is asking people to demonstrate to the Court that this is a matter of public interest by showing up in Court and witnessing the proceedings, which will take place between 8:30 am and 4 pm this coming Monday Sept. 26th and Tuesday Sept. 27th.
As Trial Nears for One Farm, the Supporters Take Action on Raw Milk Policy and Access
Toronto, Canada– September 23, 2016—Raw milk itself is on trial, say supporters, at a Monday September 26, two-day hearing at the Ontario Court of Justice. The past year has seen an unprecedented rise in consumer awareness, demand, and action to obtain this food. Raw milk drinkers cite a number of reasons for drinking raw milk from health reasons and taste, to political. For some immigrants, raw milk is a staple food in their native country.
The Ministry of Health does not think anyone should be able to access raw milk or drinking the beverage. The hearing will be held in the court building at 50 Eagle Street, West, Newmarket, Ontario.
In January of this year, York Region, The Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ministry Health filed an application to get an injunction against the distribution or sale of raw milk against Michael Schmidt, Elisa Vander Hout, Glencolton Farms, Agricultural Renewal Coop and anyone who provides, distributes or recommends raw milk. The hearing is to determine if the applications can be converted into an action. If successful, this would change the dynamics of the procedure from a hearing to a proper trial. People interested in procuring raw milk want this case to appear before a jury. Our Farm, Our Food Coop, one of the many organizations in support of consumer choice, has filed a motion to intervene as an added party to the proceedings, which would give all members a voice to defend their right to the foods of their choice. Continue reading
The following message was circulated today to the farmshare community around Michael Schmidt and Glencolton Farms:
“We need your quiet presence in court on Monday, September 26 and Tuesday September 27, 2016
Michael Schmidt, Agricultural Renewal Coop, mothers, fathers, pastors and anyone involved in fresh milk production or consumption is threatened with arrest if they continue to provide raw milk or even encourage others to provide raw milk. The court proceedings are giving us a voice and we need YOU to stand with us. With 70 affidavits from farm owners, Michael and the attorneys are making the argument that this is a case of public interest. We need you there to help prove it!
Background: York Region put in a motion for permanent injunction against distribution of raw milk. There is a motion in front of the court right now to have the application from York region to converted from an application to an action. This would change the dynamics of the procedure from a hearing before a judge to a trial before a jury. We want this case to appear before a jury.
ACTION: Show the courts this is a case of public interest! Join us in peaceful presence as we witness court proceedings against Michael Schmidt, his family, the entire herdshare and food freedom itself. Your presence is the strongest message we can send.
WHEN: Monday, September 26 and Tuesday, September 27, 2016, 8:30a.m.-4:00pm each day
WHERE: Ontario Court of Justice, 50 Eagle Street West, Newmarket Ontario. Self-parking is available”
From a recent editorial in the the Era-Banner:
“There is a growing trend in society toward more natural food consumption.
What began with people buying products directly from farmers at local markets, through farm share programs or at actual farms, has spread to grocery store shelves through the growth of things such as organic products, hormone- and antibiotic-free meat selections and packaged food that’s free of artificial colours and flavours.
By and large, the trend is a good thing. The fewer unnatural additions to food, the better, if only because we don’t have adequate research on the long-term effects of some food additives. Continue reading
Canadian Press story, via the Kitchener-Waterloo Record:
Flanked by supporters and television cameras, the self-described Godfather of raw milk, Michael Schmidt, raises a toast following his sentencing last Friday in Newmarket court.
“NEWMARKET, ONT. — Raw milk crusader Michael Schmidt was handed a $9,150 fine and one year of probation Friday on convictions related to selling and distributing unpasteurized milk.
In an interview after the sentence was handed down in a packed Newmarket, Ont., courtroom, Schmidt said he would not be paying the fine.
“I’d rather go to prison than pay the fine, and that’s a matter of principle,” he said. “If I pay the fine, then this is almost like an admittance of guilt.” Continue reading