History of TRL
How Toronto RTL began
On the evening of March 15, 1971, fifteen men and women gathered in a home in suburban Don Mills, Ontario to organize the Right to Life Association of Toronto and Area. These courageous and far-sighted individuals were called together by Gwendolyn Landolt, a lawyer, as well as founder and first President of the Association. They formed the Toronto Right to Life that evening because of their deep concern about the unchallenged misrepresentations and inaccuracies surrounding the issue of abortion in the media and the government. It was very evident to them that a voice for life and truth was necessary in the Toronto area, especially since the city of Toronto both then and now, is the media centre of Canada, and, as a result carries so much influence nationwide. For forty years the Right to Life of Toronto and Area has grown to be one of the finest and busiest pro-life educational groups in North America.
We are a volunteer, non-denominational, charitable human rights organization whose major task is to inform both the general public and all levels of government on such vital issues as abortion, euthanasia, infanticide, fetal experimentation and other related issues.
Some highlights from our last 40 years
Presented Brief to the Special Joint Committee on the Constitution of Canada, demanding constitutional protection for the preborn. Held first Mother’s Day Rally at Queen’s Park.
Held silent vigil in front of Toronto General Hospital, with 2,000 in attendance. Reached hundreds of thousands of people with Right to Life Booth at the Canadian National Exhibition.
Involved in public forum on “Infant Euthanasia” at St. Lawrence Centre. Opposed Metro Council grants to pro-abortion organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the Association for the Repeal of Canadian Abortion Laws.
Presented “On Killing Inconvenient People”, a special program on euthanasia, at St. Lawrence Centre. Submitted “Population and Justice” Brief to the Canadian National Conference for the World Population Year. Participated in “Unwanted Child Conference” held at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education CNE booth — which included a movie theatre showing pro-life film — a smash hit!
Gwendolyn Landolt retired as President of Toronto RTL, but continues to serve as legal counsel. Laura McArthur assumes Presidency. Presented Brief to the Ontario Cabinet requesting Ontario Health Insurance cease coverage of abortion. Dr. Harley Smythe, neurologist, and Gwendolyn Landolt debate pro-abortionists at St. Lawrence Centre in front of overflow crowd. Collected over 152,000 signatures from pro-lifers in the Toronto area for the “Petition of One Million”: the largest in Canadian history. Presented to Prime Minister Trudeau and members of his cabinet.
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto withdrew support from the United Way because of information supplied by Toronto Right to Life on United Way’s involvement with pro-abortion Planned Parenthood. Presented Brief to the Review Committee of the Ontario Human Rights Commission addressing discrimination against pro-life medical personnel. Began Speaker’s Seminars — a series of programs to inform our speakers and the general public on abortion, euthanasia and other life issues.
Published in-depth analysis of the Badgley Committee Report, a federal document with pro-abortion bias. Award-winning Canadian artist Alan Fujiwara designed RTL’s logo. Sent letters and telegrams to Prime Minister Trudeau and Health Minister Mark Lalonde, objecting to their attempts, by way of the federal-provincial financial agreement, to force hospitals to establish abortion clinics on the premises. Lalonde backs down.
Toronto Transit Commission allowed RTL to buy advertising space on its vehicles and then withdrew permission on the grounds that subject is “too controversial”. “Here’s One Small Reason Why You Shouldn’t Have An Abortion” — the RTL poster designed by Jerry Kuleba and Joe Shyllit of “Creative Services”, Toronto — won the “Award of Merit” from the Toronto Art Director’s Club. Hosted concert at Minkler Auditorium, with Father Ted Colleton, C.S.Sp., as M.C. and Nihal Fonseka, The Choristers of St. Michael’s Choir School, and the Butler Academy of Irish Dancing as entertainment.
Laura McArthur met with Provincial Minister of Health, Dennis Timbrell, to argue against establishment of Abortion Centre in Toronto. Centre rejected by Minister. Sponsored Children’s Poster and Poem Contest to celebrate the International Year of the Child. “His Feet Will Never Fill his Daddy’s Shoes” — another poster designed by Jerry Kuleba and Joe Shyllit — wins the “Andy Award” from the Advertising Club of New York, as well as the “Clio” in the Public Services Category. 600 people from around the world attend “The Tiniest Humans”, a 2-day, Right to Life Conference, held at the Royal York Hotel. Featured experts from New Zealand, France, the U.S. and Canada discussing the medical, moral, legal, and sociological areas affecting the preborn child.
RTL analysis of the Ontario government’s proposed Health Care Services Consent Act is published. This analysis was instrumental in having the proposed Act withdrawn. RTL legal counsel prepared an in-depth analysis of the Constitution’s effects on the rights of the preborn child. Analysis was distributed Canada-wide. Mother’s Day Rally at Queen’s Park attracts 6,000 people.
RTL issued an “urgent message” across Canada on the amendments to the proposed Constitution presented in Parliament by Federal Justice Minister Jean Chretien, and the pro-abortion recommendations on the Charter made by the Advisory Council on the Status of Women. RTL’s legal counsel went to Ottawa to meet with the House-Senate Committee reviewing the legislation to explain the disastrous implications the Charter would have for the preborn child. RTL’s “Tommy” poster (Some Toys Will Have Less Children To Play With This Year), designed by Jerry Kuleba and Joe Shyllit of “Creative Services”, Toronto, wins the “Clio Award”, in the Public Service Category, in New York.
Mother’s Day Walk, Queen’s Park, led by “Tommy” the Toy Soldier and three pipers. Speaker Giselle Cole, a former thalidomide baby. In-depth analysis of Morgentaler-proposed breach of abortion law in Toronto by his establishment of an abortion clinic. Prepared documented pamphlet, “The Facts vs. Morgentaler”; thousands were printed and distributed across Canada.
35,000 attend the All-Ontario Pro-Life Rally at Queen’s Park organized by Toronto RTL: the largest pro-life rally in Canada. Hosted all-Ontario pro-life meeting to set strategy for opposing abortion clinic operating in Toronto. Notified North York Board of Health, that its employees, paid through the provincial Ministry of Health, were using their positions and contacts to establish an illegal abortion clinic in Toronto, and requested that they cease such unauthorized activity.
Sat through extended seven-week Morgentaler trial as observers. Analyzed verdict, and questionable methods of jury selection. Analysis distributed across Canada. Held walk and Candlelight Rally at Toronto City Hall.
Commenced legal action to bring injunction to close Morgentaler abortion clinic; legal action blocked by Attorney-General Roy McMurtry. Organized initial picketing of abortion clinic. Rally and Candlelight Vigil held at Toronto City Hall with over 3,500 in attendance. Organized All Ontario “Justice for the Unborn” Rally, Queen’s Park. Tens of thousands of pro-lifers attend to hear guest speaker Dr. Morris Schumiatcher, Q.C., who drafted
Canada’s first Bill of Rights.
Alerted members and other pro-life groups and issued press releases objecting to the Ontario Minister of Health persuading striking physicians in Ontario to continue with abortion procedures in Toronto hospitals (Health Minister offered double payment under OHIP for doctors performing abortions during the strike). Prepared in-depth analysis of Canadian labour union movement whose leaders, using union fees, support abortion on demand and Morgentaler and his abortion clinic.
Sent all Ontario Alert to Ontario Pro-life groups and raised objections to Ontario Government plan to establish freestanding abortion centres throughout the province. Mother’s Day Walk and Candlelight Vigil at Toronto City Hall.
Responded to Supreme Court of Canada’s striking down of the abortion law. Laura McArthur present in court when decision handed down. Analyzed implications for wide distribution to membership and others across Canada. Prime Minister’s office received over 11,000 letters and telephone calls from pro-life supporters from across the country demanding a law be passed providing full protection for preborn children.
Distributed analysis of Federal Law Reform Commission’s pro-abortion document entitled “Crimes Against the Fetus” to pro-life groups in Canada. Analyzed UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which provided no protection for preborn child in the body of the document. Analyzed information on new chemical abortifacient RU 486; provided research on, and helped organize the boycott of the companies involved in “A Law for Life” Mother’s Day Rally and Walk held at Queen’s Park.
Analyzed and responded to Progressive Conservative government’s Bill C-43, which provided no protection whatsoever to preborn children. Analyzed two Ontario Bills “An Act Respecting Death” and “An Act to Amend the Powers of Attorney”. Sent analysis to all MPPs, the medical and legal communities, and organizations for the elderly and handicapped. Prepared Brief and testified before the Royal Commission on New Medical Technologies when it held hearings in Toronto. Laura McArthur appears before the Metro Toronto District Health Council objecting to establishment of proposed Abortion Centre in downtown Toronto. Organized opposition to stop the proposed fetal tissue experiment at Victoria General Hospital, Halifax, Nova Scotia. “Together for Life” Mother’s Day Rally and Walk held at Queen’s Park.
Laura McArthur retires as President of Toronto Right to Life after 16 years in that position. June Scandiffio assumes the Presidency. Sent out two 15-second radio clips to radio stations across Canada as well as a national press release clarifying the Supreme Court ruling in Sullivan and Lemay v. the Queen. Wrote and distributed two booklets: “Euthanasia” and “Experimentation on Preborn and Newborn Children”. Wrote an Action Alert manual with details on Ontario’s District Health Councils and the Independent Health Facilities Act. “Action Alert” was used by pro-life groups throughout Ontario in response to the NDP government’s campaign to establish and provide full funding for abortion centres. Pro-life groups effectively implemented the recommendations. “Together for Life” Mother’s Day Rally and Walk held at Queen’s Park.
Suffered tremendous loss with the death of Laura McArthur, past president of RTL. Mrs. McArthur honoured posthumously in ceremony at Saint Michael’s Cathedral with bestowal of Papal “Pro Ecclesia Et Pontiface” award. Wrote Brief on Ontario “Living Will” and Power of Attorney for Health Care legislation (Bills 74, 108-110). Presented Brief to the Standing Committee on the Administration of Justice, and distributed it to pro-life groups and advocates for the sick, elderly and disabled. Printed Mother’s Day advertisement “Is This a Choice? Or Is This a Child?” in the Toronto Sun. After 23 years downtown, moved office uptown to expand Resource Centre, and to improve access for students and other researchers.
Alerted public to dangers of provincial NDP government’s “Task Force on Abortion Service Providers” document: a “wish list” put together by 60 abortionists, abortion advocates, and abortion referral agents Right to Life’s booklet, “Development of the Preborn Child”, picked up for U.S. publication and distribution by the American Life League. June Scandiffio appears on CTV’s “Shirley Show” discussing euthanasia, and Rogers Cable in “Justice For All — Love Them Both”, discussing abortion. Began bulk mailing, vastly reducing postage costs for newsletter and other special mailings.
Distributed full-colour, 12-page newspaper insert “She’s a Child, Not a Choice” to thousands of Toronto households in remembrance of 25th anniversary of decriminalization of abortion in Canada. Testified in Ottawa before Special Senate Committee on Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, defending the rights of the vulnerable in our society. Wrote 24-page Brief outlining concerns over euthanasia and assisted suicide; presented Brief to Senate Committee and distributed widely to other concerned groups and individuals.
Organized “Youth Helping Youth”: the first Toronto Area Youth For Life Conference. Over 80 students from 19 area high schools heard presentations on both abortion and chastity. Began distribution of 200-page pro-life binders to high school libraries. June Scandiffio wrote two extended editorials: “Abortion, Democracy and Semantic Gymnastics” for Compass magazine, and “Vulnerable at Risk” for Challenge magazine. Ontario Students For Life began working out of Right to Life office, bringing their joy and optimism to our pro-life efforts.
Became an Internet subscriber, greatly improving ability to keep up-to-date on pro-life issues in Canada and around the world. Testified before the Ontario government’s Standing Committee on the Administration of Justice on Bill 19. Raised concerns over pending revisions to the Advocacy Act created by the previous NDP government. Concerns over defining assisted nutrition and hydration as “treatment” were heard and integrated into final legislation. Assisted in organizing “Save the Future”: Toronto Youth Conference 1996. Over 150 students from 22 Toronto area high schools attend Submitted Brief to Health Canada, outlining concerns over Bill C-47, An Act Respecting Human Reproductive Technologies. Brief outlined scientific reality of human life beginning at conception, as well as inherent dangers of prenatal diagnosis and other reproductive technologies.
New Executive Director, Natalie Hudson began work for the organization. Spoke to over 8000 students throughout the greater Toronto area at over 73 schools using a curriculum based on the work of Robert Spitzer, SJ called the Life Principles. Held an international leaders’ conference at Hart House, University of Toronto for over 100 youth leaders, and a large outdoor conference “World Youth for Life” on one of Toronto’s Islands, Olympic Island, where United States Senator Rick Santorum, New York’s Rabbi Yehuda Levin and Dr. Dolores Bernadette Grier were speakers. Natalie participated in an on-line debate on the subject ‘genetic terminations’ with Pro-Choice Action League’s Joyce Arthur.
TRL participated as an observer in the United Nations Convention of the Status of Women held in March at UN Head Quarters. A presentation was made to the Justice Committee regarding the negative impact of same-sex unions on the rights of children. The presentation stressed that all children have a right to be concieved naturally and to have a father and a mother. The negative impact of reproductive technologies on children’s health and well bein
g was outlined in the presentation. A new High School curriculum was designed, approved and distributed throughout the Toronto Catholic Distric School Board. Volunteers with TRL engaged the public directly by handing out over 6,000 pamphlets to passers-by on prominent street corners in Toronto. A Gala Dinner was held to help raise funds for the Reaching Minds Through Media Campaign.
The Right to Life Association published a full page advertisement in the National Post on September 24th. We published a church bulletin insert that went into all of the Catholic Churches in the Toronto Archdiocese. Over 100,000 inserts were printed in full colour and distributed among the laity. The Association expanded its Speakers Bureau to take on another paid position. The Association spoke to over 7,000 students making more than 300 presentations.
The Association chose a new logo with a fresh new look and theme. The newsletters were redesigned accordingly and are now printed in full colour. In the Spring the Association held a well attended event for post-abortion training with the founder of Project Rachel, Victoria Thorn. Rebecca Keissling also came to Toronto and the Association held an event with her at the University of Toronto, St. Michael’s College. In October, there was a large Gala dinner in which Fr. Raymond deSouza, of the National Post spoke. The keynote for the event was Mrs. Georgette Forney, co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign. The Gala kicked off the Silent No More Campaign in Toronto. The Speakers Bureau continued to reach over 10,000 students making a record 389 presentations.
TRL sponsored a large billboard at Queensway and Parker Avenue, and fifteen street-level billboards as part of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, with the message “We regret our abortions”. The ads were seen and commented on by numerous people throughout the city. At the Annual General Meeting, the guest speaker was Bobby Schindler, brother of Terri Schiavo, whose court-enforced euthanasia (in the U.S. in 2005) caused outrage around the world.
The North American Educational Initiative Foundation offered a scholarship to TRL for an undergraduate leader to attend the North American Leadership Institute. TRL presented a “Life Principles Speakers’ Training Workshop” featuring co-author of “The Life Priciples” Camille de Blasi-Pauley. The organization held a mid-summer “Swing Dance for Life”.
Movie producer Leo Severino (“Bella”, pro-life film and winner of the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival People’s Choice Award), was brought to Toronto by incoming Executive Director Paul Klotz for a talk and private premier screening. The TRL Association responded to Dr. Henry Morgentaler’s receipt of the Order of Canada with press releases, speaking at a press conference, and sending a delegation to the formal protest in front of the Governor-General’s residence.
TRL presented at the Association of Christian Schools International Student’s Conference. Dr. Stephen Mosher, President of the Population Research Institute which investigates and reports on “population control” methods of various countries and the United Nations, was guest speaker at the Gala Dinner.
The TRL Association increased its nonsectarian outreach by organizing its first youth conference conducted in union with the Toronto Catholic District School Board and presenting at the Melech Yisrael Congregation. A manual for high school pro-life clubs, initiated by TRL and drafted in a joint effort with the National Campus Life Network, was distributed Canada-wide. TRL launched a “Speakers’ Series” of recognized subject matter expert speakers appearing at various locations throughout the greater Toronto area.