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
Glencolton Farms farmer Elisa van der Hout leads a group of OFOF Coop members on a tour of the dairy barn back in April of 2017.
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
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
Thousands of petition signers urge parliament to modernize milk laws
Toronto, Ontario—A group of Canadians are hoping for a Health Canada policy change for raw milk. A Parliament e-petition in favour of changes to Health Canada’s raw milk policy has already gathered over 4,000 signatures. The petition, sponsored by Member of Parliament (MP) Larry Miller, ends on August 11, 2016.
As many Canadians return to natural and local foods, a growing number of fresh food enthusiasts want their milk produced on a small-scale from local farms. This natural, raw milk, that people have been consuming for thousands of years, is actually illegal in Canada—something that the petition creator, Cory Harris, is working to change.
“I started this petition so Canadians can have the freedom of choice to access natural foods from farmers we know. Currently, not only is it illegal to buy raw milk from a farmer, it is even illegal for me to own a cow and board it at a farm,” says Harris. “I don’t like to see the government send raids and swat teams out to farms over milk. It is time to see this policy modernized and see Canada welcome a new and more collaborative, farmer and consumer-friendly model for raw milk alongside the existing system.” Continue reading