Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Battlefield: Raw Milk

On February 5th, 2014, the Canadian Constitution Foundation will ask the Ontario Court of Appeal whether the government can take away your freedom to eat foods to promote your health when those foods cause harm to no one.

CCF client, Michael Schmidt, grew up in rural Germany where the sale of unpasteurized milk is legal. He obtained a masters degree in agriculture in 1978, writing his thesis on bio-dynamic farming—an early form of modern organic agriculture. He developed the “cow-share” concept in Germany for the purpose of reconnecting consumers and producers to ensure a safe milk supply.

After farming for 10 years in Canada, he received “an ever-growing call by those with food allergies, especially those with lactose intolerance who apparently were unable to drink or consume pasteurized milk.” He was also approached by people who had begun to “question the food safety of mainstream large scale food production. Young parents especially with great concerns for the well being of their children kept knocking on [his] door and requested raw milk.”

The sale, distribution, and delivery of unpasteurized milk is illegal in Ontario, but it is not illegal for individuals to consume unpasteurized milk if they can acquire it.

To that end, Michael revived his concept of a cow-share program at his Canadian farm. The purpose was to give individuals who purchase a share in the dairy herd legal access to unpasteurized milk. Michael’s wish was to bring cow-share members into compliance with the law, not to evade the law.

But unknown to Michael, secret agents from the government had began investigating him. And on November 21, 2006, inspectors from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Public Health executed a search warrant on Michael’s farm. Michael was charged with various offences related to the sale and distribution of unpasteurized milk.

Michael was tried before Justice of the Peace Kowarsky in the Ontario Court of Justice in 2009 on 19 charges involving:
  • selling, offering for sale, distributing or delivering unpasteurized milk and cheese contrary to the Health Protection and Promotion Act;
  • operating a “plant” without a licence contrary to the Milk Act;
  • being a “distributor” of milk without a licence contrary to the Milk Act; and
  • disobeying a health inspector’s written order.
Justice of the Peace Kowarsky acquitted the appellant on all charges. But the government appealed the acquittals.

The appeal was heard in 2011 by Justice Tetley of the Ontario Court of Justice and resulted in 13 convictions. Michael was sentenced to pay fines totaling $9,150 and one year of probation.

As Michael’s lawyers, the CCF will be making two major arguments on his behalf. First, on a proper interpretation of the current laws, cow-shares are not illegal in Ontario. Second, the Constitution of Canada protects the right of consumers’ to take responsibility for their own health.

Please click HERE to donate to the CCF today and help us defend Michael Schmidt so that Ontarians can have the freedom to acquire and consume unpasteurized milk.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cruel and Unusual Punishment: Don't Governments Have Better Things to Do?

The Montague Family
Our clients, Bruce and Donna Montague, have never caused anyone harm and have never committed acts of violence. They are well-respected members of their community, with Bruce having worked as a gunsmith serving the needs of local law enforcement.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

The Canadians We Remember Fought For Our Freedom

In World War 1 and 2, Canadians gave their lives in battle. On November 11th, in recognition of Remembrance Day, we say that we remember them and that we will never forget their sacrifice in order that we may live in a society defined by both democracy and freedom. Yet, the Canada of today would be barely recognizable to those brave soldiers who left our shores and never returned. In their absence, we have not stood on guard for the freedom for which they fought.