TORONTO (CCN) — Anti-euthanasia activist Alex Schadenberg has been honoured with the Archbishop Adam Exner Award for Catholic Excellence in Public Life by the Catholic Civil Rights League for his ongoing advocacy against euthanasia and assisted suicide.
On June 2, Schadenberg was presented with the Exner Award at the league’s annual spring dinner in Toronto. The award was created in 2004 and named after the league’s founder, known for his public advocacy during his time as archbishop of Vancouver.
Every year it is given to an outstanding Canadian Catholic who has lived out their faith publicly. Past recipients of the award include Campaign Life Coalition president Jim Hughes (2007), Canadian Food for Children founders Andrew and Joan Simone (2008) and REAL Women of Canada vice-president Gwen Landolt (2014).
League executive director Christian Elia said Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, could have been given this award many years ago. But with Bill C-14 — a bill to legalize assisted suicide in Canada — making its way through Parliament, Elia said it was particularly important to make the statement this year.
“Choosing Alex to win this highly esteemed award for his excellent work this year is very, very important because we, as serious Catholics, have to send out a message which might even be perceived as countercultural,” said Elia. “That’s the message of our faith.”
Elia said the passing of Bill C-14 is a tremendous loss for Catholics, but assures that the league will continue to be defiant.
“Just because we might have a law in Canada doesn’t mean that as Catholics we should obey it,” said Elia. “If it is intrinsically evil, and it is, we must disobey it in its entirety. Catholic physicians, Catholic hospitals, Catholic health care networks must not take part in any of it.”
Although the battle against Canada’s euthanasia laws has been lost, Schadenberg said there is still a fight to be had.
“There is no way they can control a law that is designed to have no teeth,” said Schadenberg. “It’s the lowest possible protection and so much so that I would say that there is no protection. This bill is a disaster.”
Schadenberg said the campaign against Bill C-14 must be stronger than ever. On June 1, the coalition organized a rally in front of Parliament Hill in Ottawa to express concerns about “the illusion of safeguards and the dangerous language in Bill C-14.”
It is also working with DunnMedia on a new documentary, Vulnerable: The Euthanasia Deception, to be released at the end of June. The documentary will feature 14 interviews from doctors and family members who have had direct experience with euthanasia in Belgium.
“The only down side is that it would have been nice if we had done this a couple of years ago, but we had no way to do this a few years ago,” said Schadenberg. “I wish someone would have given us huge money a few years ago, we could’ve done it then and it might have had greater impact.”
Schadenberg said the coalition will continue to build a stronger resistance campaign. This means a more robust website for Compassionate Community Care, which was launched last year as a non-profit organization comprised of health care professionals and advocates providing support services for clients and families in need of support during illness and end-of-life care.