March for Life in Edmondton, Alberta, Canada May 4
Joe Scheidler successfully crossed the border into Canada on May 3 to address the First Annual March for Life in Edmonton, Alberta. Scheidler has had an ongoing struggle with the Immigration Department in Canada, stemming from a complaint filed in 1996 by Canadian feminists who claimed he was a “terrorist.”
A 12-Year Struggle with Canadian Customs
He was warned at that time that he would not be allowed into Canada because of his “criminal history,” which turned out to be a trespass charge for entering an abortion clinic in Wilmington, DE in 1986. He meticulously followed the protocol for clearing his entry into Canada, including a trip to the Canadian Embassy in Detroit, where he was assured that his documents were in order and that there would be no problem if he traveled to Canada.
In January 1996 Scheidler had flown to Ottawa where he was to address a conference hosted by Human Life International. He was immediately stopped by a customs official, and taken to a room to be interviewed. All his luggage was inspected and he was required to purchase a special visa to be allowed to stay in the country for thirty-six hours, at a cost of $125. The customs official told him this would be the last time he would be allowed into Canada.
Joe Scheidler gained entry into Canada May 3 without incident
Two years later, Scheidler was again invited to address a pro-life assembly in Canada. Canadian pro-lifers thought they had cleared up the problem with Customs, but again when he arrived he was detained, obliged to purchase another visa and warned that this was the last time he would be permitted to enter the country.
No Trouble with Canadian Customs This Year
Scheidler then embarked on a program of “rehabilitation,” a very involved process with fingerprinting by the FBI and Illinois State Police, filling out forms and pledging not to incite a riot. But no one seemed to know what to do with the now thick file of documents. A pro-life Member of Parliament volunteered to help out and discovered that Canada had changed the entire process. The rules seemed to indicate that if a minor infraction occurred more than ten years ago, the individual would be permitted to travel in Canada.
In 2007 Scheidler went to Toronto, thinking he was now in the clear. But as soon as his name popped up on a computer a customs official went into shock. She conferred with another official, who eventually decided that the “crime” had been so long ago that he allowed him to proceed.
So, in anticipation of the May 3 trip Scheidler was expecting the usual trouble. But this time, he encountered a Customs official who turned out to be pro-life and was delighted that he had come to give several pro-life talks in Edmonton. She didn’t indicate any concern on the part of Immigration and told him she was also against abortion.
Scheidler Rallies Pro-Life Marchers
The March for Life and banquet in Edmonton were well attended and Scheidler was welcomed enthusiastically by the local pro-life community. He gave the closing talk at the Provincial Pro-Life Conference at King’s University College hosted by the Alberta Pro-Life Alliance Association, and the main address at the Sunday Evening Banquet.
Scheidler also made two brief talks at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church to encourage attendance at the March for Life, and spoke from the steps of the Legislature building to more than 300 marchers on May 4.
Visit Inspires Appreciation for American Freedoms
Before leaving Canada May 5, Scheidler visited The Back Porch, a pro-life house across from one of Dr. Henry Morgenthaler’s abortion clinics. Due to peculiar local zoning laws, the Back Porch is not permitted to function as a crisis pregnancy center, and not allowed to make any improvements to the house to make it more practical as a counseling center.
In spite of the fact that a public sidewalk runs in front of the abortion clinic, pro-lifers are not allowed to stand or walk on that sidewalk because of a “bubble zone” protecting the clinic. Unlike the bubble zone laws in the United States, there is no exception for the presence of one or two sidewalk counselors inside the restricted zone.
Any time Scheidler visits another country and encounters the restrictions on protest activity, he is reminded that, in spite of some of the political struggles we face in the United States, our First Amendment rights are something to treasure.
After returning home, Scheidler learned that a baby was saved at The Back Porch later on the day of his visit, despite the “bubble zone”. The mother mistook the pro-life center for the abortuary, and Counselor Amanda Phillips convinced her to keep her baby. The mother told her, “I’m so glad I found this place and came here instead.”
Canadian Feminists Continue Attacks on Scheidler
Canadian radical feminists, meanwhile, have not given up their attacks on Scheidler. A contributor to a Canadian feminist website called him “an anti-abortion radical from Chicago” and “a devout Catholic who has orchestrated criminal campaigns of threats, violence and intimidation against clinics, via clinic blockades and actions aimed at closing clinics.”
She went on to repeat lies about Scheidler:
Scheidler has given direct support to bombers and arsonists, and his 1985 book Closed: 99 Ways to Stop Abortion, gave the anti-abortion movement a “blueprint” for many terrorist extremist tactics, since adopted by two generations of zealots.
There is, of course, no validity to such wild accusations—although it is true that Joe Scheidler is a devout Catholic. “At least that’s my goal,” Scheidler added.