Raw milk crusader takes fight to Ontario’s top court

A crusading farmer and his supporters are taking their self-professed right to drink unpasteurized milk, which the government calls a “significant public health risk,” to Ontario’s top court this week. Raw milk farmer Michael Schmidt is arguing that by making the sale and distribution of unpasteurized milk illegal, the province is infringing on both his and his customers’ basic freedoms.

TORONTO — A crusading farmer and his supporters are taking their self-professed right to drink unpasteurized milk, which the government calls a “significant public health risk,” to Ontario’s top court this week.

Raw milk farmer Michael Schmidt is arguing that by making the sale and distribution of unpasteurized milk illegal, the province is infringing on both his and his customers’ basic freedoms.

The charter includes “the right of individuals to make decisions pertaining to their own bodies and their own health,” Schmidt’s lawyers write in arguments filed with Ontario’s Appeal Court.

“The appellant’s long-standing efforts to make unpasteurized milk available to non-farmers have been an important and fundamental life choice, having demonstrably profound psychological, economic, social and ethical consequences for him.”

But the province doesn’t see it that way. The law is meant to protect public health and infringes neither Schmidt’s nor his customers’ charter rights, the government argues.

“Consumers of unpasteurized milk do not have a liberty or security of the person ’right’ to consume unpasteurized milk,” government lawyers say in their written arguments.