Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition addressed three groups in northern Ontario.

A talk with Alex Schadenberg organized by a Northern Ontario pro-life group was given positive coverage in the local newspaper. Schadenberg, the executive director and international chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, spoke at the Encore Club in Kirkland Lake on Sept.19. The event was planned by Kirkland Lake Pro-Life and 27 people were in attendance out of a community of only 8,133 residents.

The event was open to the public and Kirkland Lake Pro-Life did a lot of advertizing on the radio, local newspaper, and in the churches before it took place. Even though the attendance was small, Brenda Howey, treasurer for Kirkland Lake Pro-Life, told The Interim that it made people “a little freer to actually question him while speaking” and “we were pleased with that interaction.”

The Northern News, a tri-weekly owned by Sun Media, devoted a third of broadsheet page A3 of the Sept. 21 edition of its paper to the event. Written by Mike Tombs and titled, “Pro-Life group hosts Euthanasia Prevention Coalition director,” the article recounts the contents of the presentation and includes statements from attendees and organizers of the event. The article referred to the organizers as the “Kirkland Lake Pro-Life group” and did not use the common “anti-abortion” label.

In its October 2012 newsletter, Kirkland Lake Pro-Life commented that Mike Tombs “did quite a bit of research into euthanasia and spent some time talking with Alex,” in order to write the story. Howie said that they were “pleased” with the coverage. Tombs later covered the group’s Life Chain which took place on Sept. 30.

This visit was one of several Schadenberg made during his speaking tour in Northern Ontario during the week of Sept. 17, during which at least 150 people attended events at which he spoke. On Sept. 20, Schadenberg met with representatives from at least six local churches at a luncheon at the First Baptist Church. Other stops included New Liskeard and Timmins. In New Liskeard, Schadenberg had an audience of 75 people during his presentation on Sept. 18 at Our Mother of Perpetual Help parish hall. New Liskeard had a population of only 4,906 in 2001 – the last year on record before it was amalgamated into the city of Temiskaming Shores. The Timmins event was held on Sept. 20.

Kirkland Lake Pro-Life, Pro-Vie Tri-Town Right to Life (situated in New Liskeard) and Campaign Life Coalition Timmins worked together to bring Schadenberg on a speaking tour that covered all three locations in northern Ontario which are about six hours north of Toronto and six hours northwest of Ottawa. “We had discussed it about a year before that,” said Brenda Howie. It took considerable effort to plan the event. The pro-life groups did not often host speakers because of the distant location, which increases travel costs.

The three groups agreed on having Schadenberg present because euthanasia and assisted suicide is a current issue now in the courts. Also, “we very seldom saw anything in the newspaper” about it and the brief coverage it did receive never gave another perspective, Howie explained. The pro-life groups also felt that the meeting with Schadenberg would be an important source of motivation to get involved with the issue. She also noted that many pro-lifers in northern Ontario cannot easily attend provincial and national conferences.

Kirkland Lake Pro-Life had several challenges in hosting Schadenberg. First of all, “you’re not really sure who was going to come,” Howie told The Interim. The group put in a lot of advertizing and received good deals: it took advantage of local newspaper specials and paid for 15 ads over the radio. They actually received 50 ads because the radio would air them after hours as well. Moreover, the group asked pastors to spread news to their churches. In the end, most of the people in attendance were Catholics;  Howie acknowledged that they would need to work for more Protestant participation.

Nevertheless, when asked whether the event at Kirkland Lake was a success, Howie responded: “for Northern Ontario, yes.” After all, a reporter gave good coverage of the presentation, which also helped spread the message. “For us, that was a lot.”