Shame on You – Fraser Health
I am very sorry that I haven’t gotten around to posting this previously. I have been hoping to hear the judge, Justice N. Smith’s decision in favor of our x-agister Alice Jongerdon, but who knows when that is going to happen. In the meantime, I attended the trail of Fraser Health vs Alice Jongerdon on the 14th October, 2010. This was definitely a new experience for me, as I prefer to avoid institutions of every kind, but I will admit this was an important experience for me. The whole atmosphere is geared towards intimidating the guts right out of you! It was also great to see a range of ages represented in the attending members of the cow-share. There were even a few kids! One of the other cowshare members remarked to me that it is probably good experience for the kids, so they will learn not to fear the institutions. My worry would be that they would take them for granted as a necessary part of life–but I digress 🙂
The case was held in the New Westminister Court building and about 30 or so members of the cowshare attended along with Michael Schmidt our new agister. We had to go through several cases before ours came up. The judge seemed to be a reasonable fellow–so I hope he really is and will have the balls to stand with the people and defend food rights. (See Michael Schmidt’s ‘Edmonton Declaration‘ call to arms to protect local community farms).
The Fraser Health lawyer was pretty angry about the situation, claiming that Alice Jongerdon’s actions of clearly labelling the milk “not for human consumption” and informing the members of our small dairy co-op that Fraser Health declared raw milk to be a hazardous substance, to be “Deliberate conduct to subvert a direct order from the court.”
He also said that all his client (Fraser Health) wants is compliance with the law, and they would be satisfied with a 2 year restrictive period as well as a fine for Alice Jongerdon. By the end of his tirade it was clear that Fraser Health was mostly annoyed by being ‘disobeyed’ and not at all interested in protecting and providing for the health of the people.
As I was sitting in the court room, I spent time trying to figure out how much this whole fiasco was costing everyone. It just seemed so surreal and outrageous. If I want to drink raw milk from my own cow what business is it of all these people? This is a private act, a communion between me, the cow and her milk, which–in reality–is one of the most ancient, instinctual acts of humankind.
I was surprised also to hear the Fraser Health lawyer compare this case to the case of Lubrisol vs Imperial Oil. How disgusting. Seriously, shame on you Fraser Health. Why don’t you put all of this time and money into de-centralizing industrial farming? Then we could have a discussion about how we can work together to provide good food for even the most needy, and maybe even get somewhere.
When Alice Jongerdon’s lawyer stood up and presented her case, it became increasingly clear that Fraser Health has been harassing and terrorising her for about two years. Their latest attempt–the contempt of court order they seem to have botched rather badly by changing the wording of the order from packaging to producing the raw milk. (More history about the case can be found here.) He pointed out that Fraser Health is asking for the punishment of Alice Jongerdon and is obviously eager to make her an example so that they can shut down other local cowshares.
The judge listened to both sides, he seemed to want to just agree with the Fraser Health lawyer and be done with the whole thing, but he did actually listen to Alice Jongerdon’s lawyer and I believe he took into consideration all of the cowshare members who were lined up in the hard wooden pews of that courtroom. I am still putting off judgement of this judge until I hear his order, but I will say if it does come out in our favor, perhaps I will be a little convinced that people can actually get the court system to work for them sometimes…
…although I still insist that it is all a huge waste of resources, time and energy and I am sure humanity can figure out a better way to organize ourselves…but I digress 😉