The Humanist Association of Toronto provides a focus of activities and discussion for Humanists in the Toronto area. Please note: HAT events are open to the public, and views expressed do not necessarily represent the official views of the Humanist Association of Toronto. For all public statements, educational events, media enquiries, please contact the webeditor, who will forward your enquiry to our Spokesperson.
The Humanist Forum meets Saturday morning 11am-1pm
The Monthly Meeting the 2nd or 3rd Saturday at 1:30pm (TBD)
The Steering Committee meets 1st Wednesday, 7pm
The Book Group meets monthly.

Obituary for Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens Dead at the Age of 62

A lion of intellectual honesty has died. One of our members came across this eloquent piece written by David Frum. Please follow the link below; you will have to scroll a little down the screen:

HAT FORUM on DEC 24, Dec 31 - alternate meeting site

The HAT Saturday Forum will not meet on December 24th or December 31st. Instead, we will meet for lunch at the Fox and Fiddle, on Bloor St. between St. George and Huron, at 12:00 PM.

HAT Monthly Meeting, Sat Jan 14, 1:30pm: "Russia"

HAT Monthly Speakers Meeting Saturday, January 14, 2012 1:30 – 3pm
Location:   OISE, 252 Bloor St. west, Room TBD
Speaker: Dr. Nikolay Zyuzev, “Is Russia on the Road to Liberalization?”

Dr. Nikolay Zyuzev is a member of the Russian Humanist Association; he has a PhD in Philosophy from Moscow State University and currently holds positions in the Departments of Philosophy of Komi State Pedagogical Institute and Syktyvkar State University; he has presented, written and edited many papers and books on Russian culture; and he is also a professional journalist (he has been for many years a "Radio Liberty" freelance contributor) with political experience.

Dr. Zyuzev will talk about the current situation in Russia. Revolts are going on in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities; demonstrations are being held about the illegitimacy of the elections; arrests are occurring; and there are rumours that soldiers are being prepared. Dr. Zyuzev believes it is all just the beginning of a new long and painful phase in the process of liberalization in his country. Some aspects of the events sometimes are misread by local commentators. Whether Dr. Zyuzev is right or wrong in this observation – you can decide. Please join us for an insightful look at a fascinating country in turmoil from someone who knows Russian political life from within.

HAT Forum - 17th December

HAT FORUM  Sat Dec 17, 11am - 1pm
LOCATION: OISE, 252 Bloor Street W, ROOM 2-286
TOPIC:   Modern Taboos

All are welcome.

HAT Book Group meeting, Sunday Jan 8, 11-12:30: Montaigne

The HAT book reading group will meet next:
Sunday, January 8th, 2012, from 11:00-12:30 at OISE, 252 Bloor Street W.

We will be discussing selected essays from the work of Michel de Montaigne, one of the earliest influences on the Humanist project:

One edition is: Essays by Montaigne, Michel de, 1533-1592. Translated by: Florio, John, 1553?-1625. Year/Format: 2005
The edition has 5 copies in the library

There are many editions of Montaigne's essays and many volumes, so we suggest we read some of them and share our insights. Montaigne writes about vanity, the value of friendship, constancy, idleness, liars, virtue, cowardice, prognostication, cannibals, the greatness of Rome, "That to Study Philosophy Is to Learn to Die," and a host of other topics.

Filled with insights and keen observations that have inspired later writers as diverse as Shakespeare, Bacon, Voltaire, Rousseau, Flaubert, Virginia Woolf, and Roland Barthes, the Essays of Montaigne should be on the shelf of every student, scholar, and book lover.

All welcome

HAT FORUM Sat Dec 10, 11am OISE, 252 Bloor St West

HAT FORUM  Sat Dec 10, 11am - 1pm
LOCATION: OISE, 252 Bloor Street W, ROOM 2-286

All are welcome.

HAT Monthly Meeting, Sat Dec 10, 1:30-3 "Compassionate Care"

Saturday, December 10, 1:30 – 3pm
Room 2-211, OISE, 252 Bloor St. west
Michael J. Wheeler, “Compassionate Care: A Humanist Perspective”

Michael Wheeler is the Vice-President, Ontario Humanist Society Board, and the Membership Chair.  He holds a Masters Degree in Education and Applied Psychology. He has had a long and varied teaching career as well as a dynamic history of social activism.  Over the years, Michael has provided hospice care as a volunteer in varied settings. These include a hospital and a community centre with people of different intellectual capacities, and cultural traditions. It is from those experiences that he wishes to share his observations and insights.

All welcome:  HAT members and guests are warmly invited to attend our monthly (free) presentation - and share your thoughts.

HAT forum, Sat Dec 3, OISE, 11am

HAT Forum Discussion.
Sat Dec 3, 2011. 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at O.I.S.E. 252 Bloor Street W, room  2-296
Facilitator Cornelis van de Graaff.
Topic:  Strike, Lockout and Grievances
Is the Union, or Employee Association’s purpose to mediate differences between staff and the Owner/Management?

What are the similarities and differences interests of employees and employer?
Is a Balance of Power a requirement for a successful relationship?
What is the danger of  “ always beating last year’s figures” ?
Who of the two parties takes the responsibility of a changing economic climate?
Who bears the responsibility for the mutual success in the organization?
How to share of not only profits but also losses?
How much if any, input should a Union have in the running of the organization?
How do you deal with a situation where one or both parties are non responsive to the others point of view?
What is the responsibility of an Outside Mediator?
Can an “essential service” have the right to strike? + What is “essential”?

Trivia question: Which country first added the Right to Strike to their constitution? And when?
Answer: show up on Saturday and I will tell you.

Lecture, Dec 1, How does the brain recognize shapes?

How does the Brain Recognize Shapes? - Cafe Scientifique
Note from Kevin Saldanha:
Thursday, December 1, 2011 at 7:30 pm 
Geoffrey Hinton, Ph.D., F.R.S.C., Professor, Department of Computer Science, U of T, Recipient of NSERC’s Gerhard Herzberg Gold Medal for Science and Engineering

RCI joined forces with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), Canada’s major funder of science and engineering in universities, to establish the Foundation Lecture, marking the foundation of the RCI in 1849. The Lecture is delivered by the winner of the NSERC Herzberg Award, presented for a lifetime of extraordinary accomplishment in research in science or engineering.

This lecture will be given at the Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University, 55 Dundas St. W., in Lecture Hall TRS-1-067 (NOT in the MacLeod Auditorium)

Humanist Forum : Saturday Nov 26, 2011
The occupation of St. James Park 

and the 1%?


1. "Should the occupiers be allowed to occupy a municipal park, indefinitely?"

2. What is the job of the media and the demonstrators? How best can they express their important message?

3. Concerning the growing economic disparity in our world: Is it right and should it continue to grow as it has been over the past few years?

4. How could we go about rectifying this situation? Would it be beneficial to rectify this situation?

5.What about statements regarding percentage wealth ? Very many differing figures but all point to huge income gap!

"The income of the richest 1 % of people equals that of the poorest 57 %. The three richest people own more than the poorest 10 % of people combined. Women do two-thirds of global work, earn less than 10 % of wages and own less than 1% of wealth."

(Milanovic and Robbins )from Deep Green Resistance…
Saturday November 19, 2011 Forum

Topic: Men: An Endangered Species?

Room: 2-227

Time: 11AM-1PM

Facilitator: Michael Wheeler

Ok....for the most part now in history, men run the economies, the countries and the world. ...and
they earn more, in global terms, a lot more. But males better look out as trends in world population
demographics, and world economic and social indicators show that men`s numbers and their
influences are on the wane and will be more so into the future.

Many questions emerge. One major question revolves around whether this is a significant problem that
needs to be addressed. Another asks what can be done and by whom.

Factors to be considered :

Birth Rates – Currently , in the world, fewer boys are born when compared to girls, except in regions
of countries like India and China, where abortion and infanticide have skewed the statistics ( United
Nations census, UNICEF 2010). Studies in Canada show that there is a significant drop in the percentage
of boys being born compared to girls. (`` Population Trends in Canada ``, University of Toronto, 2010 )
Male children as they mature are facing increasing concerns about virility, fertility and testicular cancer
directly related to environmental pollution, e.g. chemicals and pesticides.

Gender Impacts – Worldwide, relative to females, male children as they mature, are having
increasingly more problems in educational institutions with respect to proficiency and
advancement ....and in society in general with respect to antisocial behaviours.

Employment – Trends indicate that other than traditional social, corporate, military, government and
religious elites, women are outstripping men in most professional, business and work related activities
in terms of numbers, productivity and invention. Many traditionally male professions, especially when
they require college and university training, are now in the process becoming dominated by women
both in numbers and influence.

Leadership – `` Most men don`t make effective leaders these days. The new generation of effective
leaders are inclusive, reward rather than punish, encourage rather than disparage...who, generally
speaking , exhibit more stereotypically feminine characteristics. Rethinking masculinity is a must for
survival . `` ( `See Jane Lead `, Dr. Lois Frankel, 2010 )

This topic is open to discussion as to your reflections, opinions and information for the next Saturday
discussion group. It should be fun and enlightening.

Event: Pen Canada, Nov 15, Day of the Imprisoned Writer

PEN Canada

November 15, 2011 – Toronto – PEN Canada will take to the streets of Toronto and invite pedestrians to show their support for the immediate release of two of its Honorary Members: the Iranian human rights lawyer and journalist Nasrin Sotoudeh, recipient of the 2011 One Humanity Award; and Dawit Isaak, one of ten Eritrean journalists who have been held without formal charges or trials since September 2001.

On November 15, PEN International’s 30th Annual Day of the Imprisoned Writer, teams of PEN Canada volunteers between 2 pm and 4 pm will invite members of the public to have their photographs taken with large portraits of these writers as a gesture of support. With their consent, these photos will be uploaded to various websites supporting this cause. They also will be given detailed case information and the names and addresses for authorities to whom petitions and appeal letters should be sent.

To show your support for these writers, look for  PEN Canada volunteers at the following locations.
Nasrin Sotoudeh – An Iranian human rights lawyer known for her outspoken advocacy of women's and children's rights, currently serving a six year sentence in Evin prison for "propaganda against the regime".

Union Station (Front and Bay) – 2 pm
Dundas Square (SE corner) – 2 :45 pm
Nathan Philips Square (next to the pond) – 3:30 pm
Dawit Isaak – Imprisoned immediately after the Eritrean government’s crackdown on independent media in 2001, he has been held for over ten years without due process and is believed tobe in poor mental and physical health.

Nathan Philips Square (next to the pond) 2 pm
Dundas Square (SE corner) – 2:45 pm
Union Station ( Front and Bay) – 3:30 pm

HAT FORUM: Sat. Nov 12, 11:30am -1pm

Date: Sat Nov 12, 11:30 - 1pm
Facilitator: Deborah Jenkins
Location: OISE, 252 Bloor St West, ROOM 2-227
Topic: The world a hundred years from now: How do you envision the world of our grandchildren and great-grandchildren? Discussing: War and Violence, Religion, Culture, Technology
NOTE: that the HAT Monthly Meeting will be held at 1:30pm following this event.
HAT Monthly Meeting, Sat. Nov 12, 1:30pm - 3:30pm,
OISE, 252 Bloor Street West. Room 10-200
Speaker: Matthew Bin
Topic: Canadian Peacekeeping: a Humanist Perspective. Matt Bin is an author, consultant, and humanist officiant living in Oakville. His book, "On Guard for Thee: Canadian Peacekeeping Missions", was published by Toronto's Bookland Press. It provides a vital oral history of the peacekeeping missions undertaken by Canada's armed forces in the modern age.

Veterans of every Canadian mission from the first Gulf War to Afghanistan are interviewed in the book, including stirring first-hand accounts from Haiti, the former Yugoslavia, and the Rwandan genocide. As we consider Canada's role on the international stage, it is important that we keep in mind the heavy toll that these conflicts take on the young men and women who do the job on our behalf. Please come and hear him speak on November 12, 1:30pm at OISE.

GTA EVENT: Thinking Ahead to 2014: Taking a Critical Look at Local Elections, Nov 23

(36) Thinking Ahead to 2014: Taking a Critical Look at Local Elections

Better Ballots presents an evening discussion on local electoral reform.
"Thinking Ahead to 2014: Taking a Critical Look at Local Elections"
Wednesday, November 23 · 7:00pm - 9:00pm Oakham House, Ryerson University 63 Gould Street Toronto, ON
Although the dust is still settling from the 2010 municipal elections, it is never too early to look ahead to 2014 – not in terms of who might be running, but rather looking at the rules around how citizens cast their votes. One year ago, voter turnout in Toronto barely reached the 50% mark, and women and visible minority candidates were once again poorly represented on the new Council. There is clearly room for improvement.

Better Ballots is a non-partisan group exploring options to make municipal elections more relevant, fair and participatory. The group has put forward 14 options for voting reform, such as term limits, ranked ballots, a lower voting age, proportionality and local parties. How would these options look in Toronto? What benefits might these changes bring? What would it take to get people more engaged with municipal elections? What role does provincial regulation play in improving the ability of municipalities to innovate, and how does this fit into the larger discussion of increased powers for Ontario's towns and cities? Join us for an open discussion of the pros and cons of local electoral reform.


• Alan Broadbent, Maytree Foundation
• Paul Farrelly, Vote Toronto
• Sarah Lambert, Ranked Ballot Initiative
• William Molls, VoteTO16
• Rob Newman, Better Ballots Campaign
• Wayne Smith, FairVote Canada
• Kristyn Wong-Tam, Toronto City Councillor
• Leonardo Zúñiga, iVote Toronto

Better Ballots is an initiative of the Emerging Leaders Network

HAT Monthly Meeting, Sat. Nov. 12, Matthew Bin, 1:30pm

HAT Monthly Meeting, Sat. Nov 12, 1:30pm, OISE, 252 Bloor Street West. Room 10-200 Speaker: Matthew Bin Topic: Canadian Peacekeeping: a Humanist Perspective. Matt Bin is an author, consultant, and humanist officiant living in Oakville. His book, "On Guard for Thee: Canadian Peacekeeping Missions", was published by Toronto's Bookland Press. It provides a vital oral history of the peacekeeping missions undertaken by Canada's armed forces in the modern age. Veterans of every Canadian mission from the first Gulf War to Afghanistan are interviewed in the book, including stirring first-hand accounts from Haiti, the former Yugoslavia, and the Rwandan genocide. As we consider Canada's role on the international stage, it is important that we keep in mind the heavy toll that these conflicts take on the young men and women who do the job on our behalf. Please come and hear him speak on November 12, 1:30pm at OISE.

ROM EVENT: Stephen Lewis and Romeo Dallaire on Child Soldiers, Nov 25

They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children with Romeo Dallaire and Stephen Lewis
Friday, November 25, 7:00 - 9:00 pm ,

Romeo Dallaire and Stephen Lewis discuss the eradication of the use of children as weapons of war.
Moderator: Anna Maria Tremonti

Speaker: Senator Romeo Dallaire is the winner of the Pearson Peace Medal, author of the award-winning book Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda and recently They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children and an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Speaker: Stephen Lewis is a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Ryerson University in Toronto, board chair of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, and co-director of AIDS-Free World. Mr. Lewis was the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa from June 2001 until the end of 2006. He is author of the best-selling Race Against Time and a Companion of the Order of Canada.
Cost: YPC Members $40.00, Public $40.00, Member $40.00, RPC Members $40.00

IHEU Eulogy for Rob Buckman

When Rob BuckmanHumanist, oncologist, and TV personality – realized he was dying from an autoimmune disease, he thought it would be useful to make a film to help others learn from his death. He was right about the value of the film: Your Own Worst Enemy was a great critical success and helped countless people address a topic that is taboo and yet unavoidable. But Rob was wrong about the subject of the film: thanks to a new treatment he survived another three decades after the 1981 movie. And those three decades were filled with the love, learning and laughter that made him a hugely popular figure on both sides of the Atlantic. Rob BuckmanIt was somewhere over the Atlantic that death finally caught up with Rob Buckman on October 9, 2011. He died in his sleep while flying back to Toronto after filming some health shows in London. He was 63. He is survived by his first wife, Joan van den Ende, and their two daughters, Joanna and Susie, and by his second wife, Pat Shaw, and their two sons, James and Matthew.

The attitude that led Rob to make Your Own Worst Enemy was typical of his life. He used his remarkable communication skills to share his medical expertise with the widest possible audience. But he was so much more than just an expert communicator: he laid bare his essential humanity, right down to the details of his own mortality, in order to help others find understanding and comfort. And these rare talents can be found throughout his life, intertwined in his vocations as physician, communicator and Humanist.

The 1994 Canadian Humanist of the Year, Rob was always eager to help the Humanist movement. For more than a decade, starting in 1999, he was a hands-on president of the Humanist Association of Canada. He also worked with the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) serving as Chairman of the Advisory Board for IHEU’s bio-ethics center at the United Nations. He made frequent trips from Toronto to New York City to help the bio-ethics center, speaking at the center's conferences and contributing to UN briefings.

Rob grew up in London, and then went to St John's College, Cambridge, where he graduated in medicine in 1972. At Cambridge he was a star in the famous Footlights troupe, which has featured so many of Britain's leading comedians. As a junior doctor at University College Hospital, London, he met Chris Beetles, and they teamed up as "Beetles and Buckman" Buckman" to perform live comedy and revue. Rob wrote for the long-running satirical BBC Radio 4 show Week Ending, and for a TV sitcom, Doctor On the Go, based on Richard Gordon's Doctor in the House books. In the 1980s, Rob went on to front a long-running TV medical series with Miriam Stoppard, Where There's Life.

In 1985 Rob emigrated to Canada, working as an oncologist at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, before moving to Toronto’s Princess Margaret Hospital. He also became a full professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto and adjunct professor at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. He specialized in breast cancer and also in teaching communication skills in oncology to physicians and nurses. In Canada, Rob continue his career presenting television science-and-medicine programmes Magic or Medicine? his series on ‘alternative medicine’, won him a Gemini award (the Canadian TV Industry equivalent of an Emmy).

As well as writing a weekly column for the Toronto Globe and Mail, Rob wrote 15 books. Many of these aimed to help people deal with death and dying, including: How To Break Bad News: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals; What You Really Need To Know About Cancer: A Comprehensive Guide for Patients and their Families; Cancer is a Word, Not a Sentence: A Practical Guide to Help You Through the First Few Weeks; and I Don't Know What To Say - How To Help And Support Someone Who Is Dying. His autobiography was titled Not Dead Yet. He also wrote a national best-seller exploring his Humanist philosophy: Can We Be Good Without God? Biology, Behavior and the Need to Believe.

In Twice Around the World and Still Stupid, Rob Buckman wrote, "To me, Humanism is what you are left with if you strip away what doesn’t make sense. I was always attracted by science, and the more I learned, the more I found that many established world-philosophies (particularly among some of the organized religions) didn’t make any form of intuitive sense. Undoubtedly they bring great comfort to their believers, but I found that I was unable to sincerely believe in any divine architecture to the cosmos, or in any predetermined destiny for any race or creed or even for any individual. From my teenage years onwards, I basically came to think that we humans are a most peculiar species huddled together in a rather uneven and random way on a rather pleasant planet, and it’s up to us to do our best. I have never felt that we can look for assistance elsewhere. What we see around us is what we’ve got.

Now that might sound as if I am some sort of unemotional reductionist - a B. F. Skinner playing the role of doctor – but I know that I am not. Accepting a Humanist view of our world does not mean that you don’t feel love, anger, fright, tenderness – or even humour. A Humanist basis simply allows you to spend less of your time twisting what you see and contorting it to fit somebody else’s idea of what ought to be. Of course I could be wrong: but if I am I don’t think I shall have done all that much damage on the way – on average, Humanists don’t." --Matt Cherry, IHEU
HAT Forum Saturday October 29, 2011

Location: OISE Building 252 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON M5S 1V6

Room: 2-227

Facilitator: William Kennedy


November 20th, Sunday from 11:00 am to 12:30 at OISE in Room 10-200

The book for November is:
"In Praise of Folly" (1509) by Desiderius Erasmus (One of the first writers to be considered a Humanist)

Erasmus' characterization of Folly is cleverly constructed. She praises herself endlessly, arguing that life would be dull and distasteful without her. She venerates her comrades, Self Love, Flattery, Oblivion, and Pleasure. Above all, Folly lauds self-deception and foolishness, finding Biblical support in favor of her beliefs. In conclusion, Folly speaks directly of Christianity, regarding its religious authority and practices.

There are a couple of copies in the Library,
(and is often included in collections of his works as it is relatively short-about 75 pages)
and at this time a Penguin classic copy at Chapters Indigo at (Bay Bloor) and WBB
and it is available free online at Christian Classics Ethereal Library
PEN's Ideas in Dialogue Series presents

They Fight Like Children, They Die Like Soldiers:
Romeo Dallaire and Stephen Lewis
discuss the eradication of the use of children as weapons of war .

All tickets can be purchased through the ROM box office by calling 416-586-5797 or visiting online.

Tickets for this event will go fast so please don't be disappointed and get your ticket early.
on behalf of InterChange GTA

Everyone can be a Peacebuilder!

Please join us for a creative and participatory

‘Peace Ambassadors’ Workshop

you will:
  • learn core peace concepts and models
  • explore the idea of “peace literacy” and how it can be promoted
  • discover your unique peacebuilding role
  • be exposed to Nonviolent Communication and other useful peace skills
  • find out more about the InterChange workshops and facilitators and how these can be brought to your community
  • share your values and ideas with like-minded people
  • use the metaphor of a picnic to help spread the Culture of Peace

Date: Saturday October 29

Time: 12- 4 pm
Place: Peace Lounge, 7th floor OISE, 252 Bloor St. W (at. St. George)
Suggested Fee: $50 general, $30 InterChange members, $25 students/unwaged
Dying With Dignity Canada - Fall Newsletter


Hospital Gets Education in Patient Care
A DWD client has his rights violated by the staff at a hospital in rural Ontario (see page 1).

Choice in Dying Around the World
A brief look at developments in Korea, France and Australia among others - what has been happening in the Right to Die Movement around the world over the past year (see page 3).

Highlights of our Membership Survey

Hundreds of members participated in our membership survey. If we did have choice in dying, what would it look like? What are our most critical activities? See pages 4 and 5.

A Geographical Look at our Members
Ontario is our largest base, with BC a somewhat distant second. But we have certain cities and towns that are hotbeds of activity including Guelph, Yellowknife, Comox/Courtenay and the tiny village of Lions Bay. See the back cover for more details.
Fall Events

We have a busy fall with many events scheduled for BC and Ontario. See page 9 for details. Want an event in your area? Call our head office to get involved in organizing one!
Here is a doc some of you may be interested in...

Nefarious: Merchant of Souls exposes the hidden undercurrent of injustice beneath the surface of global sex-tourism. Millions of women and children around the world have become disposable items within the business of the sex trade. These women and children are brutalized and exploited while mainstream culture remains complacent in their demise.

DATE: October 23, 2011

TIME: To be confirmed

LOCATION: 161 Princess Avenue in Etobicoke
Here is great clip from a BBC debate on 'The Life of Brian' involving John Cleese and Michael Palin:

HAT FORUM - Saturday October 22, 2011

Topic: Occupy Wall Street

Facilitator: Moses Klein

Venue: OISE Building, 252 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON

Time: 11.00 am - 1.00 pm

Room: 2-227
Humanism is taking on the Canadian television audience!

Being Human addresses social, political, ecomonic and health topics in a lively talk-show format. Both entertaining and educational, it is produced by Humanist Canada and presents a common-sense perspective on important issues that affect everyone.

Episode Listing and Schedule
  • Monday, Oct. 17, 2011 - Mary Beaty - A Humanist in Action
  • Monday, Oct. 24, 2011 - Matt Cherry – International Humanism
  • Monday, Oct. 31, 2011 - Jason Wiles – Understanding Evolution
  • Monday, Nov. 7, 2011 - Chris diCarlo - Good and Evil : How science helps us understand human values and actions
  • Monday, Nov. 14, 2011 - Agathe Gramet-Kedzior – Reproductive choice
  •  Monday, Nov. 21, 2011 - Mike Nickerson - Sustainability: Living on the Earth as if we want to stay
  •  Monday, Nov. 28, 2011 - Suzanne Peters – The Social Determinants of Health
  •  Monday, Dec. 5, 2011 - Chris di Carlo – We are all African - Racism is a human invention
  • Monday, Dec. 12, 2011 - Keith Garebian – Humanism and the Arts

All episodes air at 1:30 p.m. EST on Vision

We at HAT were profoundly saddened by the news of Dr. Buckman's sudden and untimely death.We mourn the loss of a man who was a great friend, not only to the worldwide Humanist movement, but to HAT in particular. Rob, as we all knew him, was of course the former President of the Humanist Assoctation of Canada, but his links to HAT were especially close. Rob was the guiding force behind two large-scale multi-faith symposiums held in Toronto, jointly sponsored by HAT and HAC. At both of these, Rob brilliantly presented the Humanist viewpoint as a member of a panel of distinguished leaders of various faiths.

Much in demand internationally as a guest speaker, commanding fees of $5,000 and higher, Rob graciously appeared--without charge--as a guest speaker at HAT monthly meetings for five consecutive years. His book, "Can We Be Good Without God?," is another link to HAT, as it was written with the assistance of the then-HAT Spokesperson, Michael Schulman; the book remains Canada's most significant contribution to the literature of what is referred to as 'the New Atheism'.

We join with Rob's family, friends and colleagues in remembering him and cherishing his legacy--a legacy filled with humour, wisdom, kindness and compassion.
will meet on Sunday October 23rd from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm at OISE

The book we have chosen for October is:
Globish : How the English Language became the World's Language
by McCrum,Robert. 3 holds / 25 copies (in public Library)

Summary from the Library :
McCrum, a British journalist, discusses the undeniable infiltration of English into daily usage worldwide. He notes that a form of English continues to be used in former British colonies and that the common language of business and computers is now "Globish", although this term is never clearly defined. The majority of the book consists of a history of English as it developed in Britain and was changed in America. America then became the disseminator of culture and concomitant neologisms. McCrum looks at the love/hate relationship of the rest of the world to this phenomenon. He touches upon the mutation of English as it becomes embedded in other languages but leaves the reader to investigate the ramifications of "Globish" in our globalized world. " "

HAT FORUM, Sat. Oct 1, 11:30am, OISE Room 2-227

HAT Forum, Sat. Oct 1, 11:30am - 1pm LOCATION: OISE, 252 Bloor Street West, ROOM 2-227 FACILITATOR: Gary Higgins TOPIC: Palestine as a sovereign state The UN & the EU are stressing the immediate resumption of peace talks, and within the coming year this should be concluded. How likely is this to be done? Abbas stresses the need to stop, and dismantle Jewish settlements on the West Bank Netanyahu says it has nothing to do with continued settlement, Israel's real need is for a guaranteed peace How likely is this? It's been suggested the exercise of making this proposal for statehood, [even though likely to be voted down by the US ] would be a beneficial exercise for the Palestinians Possible questions: 1. What to do about hamas militants continuing to launch rockets on Israeli settlements? would Israel retaliatie vs Palestine, as a sovereign nation? What would be the response by other Arab countries and alliances in the region? 2. Could Palestine police itself ? Thus far it has failed to reign in the more militant parts of Hamas 3. How would palestine statehood affect Israeli settlements on the west bank 4. What are the chances of Israel going back to the proposed '67 peace accords as suggested, as demanded by Abbas

Human Rights Logo Unveiled in New York - Cinema for peace news

Human Rights Logo Unveiled

The first ever logo for human rights was unveiled Friday night, at an event in New York hosted by the global charity organization, Cinema for Peace. The logo aims to become a universally recognized symbol for the promotion and implementation of human rights around the world. It comes at an important time, as millions of citizens in the Middle East and around the world are struggling against oppressive regimes and myriad human rights violations.

In a presentation introducing the logo for the first time, news anchor Ann Curry explained the concept of the logo, stating, "If symbols are a way to communicate what we value most, it is time for a symbol for human rights." The new design, which brings to mind both a human hand and a bird in flight, was created by Serbian designer Predrag Stakic. Stakic's logo was the winner of an online contest, and was chosen from overwhelming pool of 15,000 entries which were submitted by designers in 190 countries.

The field of entries was narrowed down to 10 finalists by a panel of judges that included some of the world's most important leaders and human rights defenders. Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Aung San Suu Kyi, Jimmy Carter, Muhammed Yunus, Mikhail Gorbachev and Shirin Ebadi, as well as Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, Cambodian human rights activist Somaly Mam, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, Columbian musician Juanes and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanathem Pillay all voted for the new human rights logo, which they hope will some day be a globally understood symbol of hope. When asked about the project, and its impressive jury, Human Rights Logo supporter and CEO of United Internet Media, Matthias Ehrlich said, "The jury reflects the diversity of the world, with people representing nearly every continent. Most importantly, they are people who are engaged in the human rights movement, meaning that the movement itself is choosing its symbol."

In a video message to those gathered at the presentation, Burmese opposition politician and human rights icon, Aung San Suu Kyi said, "I look forward to the time when this logo will be seen all over the world, from the smallest towns to the biggest cities. I hope that little children and babies will see it and it will be a sign of happiness, peace and security to them."

After the unveiling of the logo, Cinema for Peace and United Internet Media (parent company of hosted a dinner reception at Gustavino's restaurant. Guests included Robert De Niro and his daughter Dreena De Niro who served as a co-host, alongside world leaders and activists such as German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, One Campaign president Michael Elliott, Ugandan children's activist Angelina Atyam, human rights leader Caroline Gomes, and opera singer Jessye Norman, who wowed the crowd at the presentation with a rendition of "Amazing Grace".

Also in attendance were Leila and Manoubia Bouazizi, sister and mother of Mohamed Bouazizi, the man who inspired the Arab Spring by committing suicide by self-immolation in January of 2011. The assembled audience was moved as the pair spoke of his life and the repercussions of his death. Through a translator, his sister Leila Bouazizi expressed solidarity with the revolutions taking place across the Arab world, and called upon human rights leaders to stand with those who had sacrificed themselves for freedom, justice and dignity - the ideals of the Arab Spring.

As citizens around the world protest and make sacrifices for the ideals Leila Bouazizi spoke of, they will have one new tool in their arsenal, a symbol that demands human rights for everyone, in every language.

HAT MONTHLY MEETING, Sat. Oct 15, Dr. K. Sohail

HAT MONTHLY MEETING Saturday, October 15, 2011, 1:30 - 3pm OISE, 252 Bloor St. West Speaker: Dr. K. Sohail, “The Next Stage Of Human Evolution” Dr. K. Sohail, author, humanist and psychotherapist, has been sharing his humanist philosophy in his writings and his lectures for the last three decades. He is a passionate and popular speaker, and we look forward to this return engagement In the 21st century humanity is at a crossroads. Human beings have a choice to commit collective suicide by nuclear weapons or grow to the next stage of human evolution. Animals have evolved through natural selection but humanity will evolve because of human selection and the choices human beings will make individually and collectively. Let us hope human beings choose the path of peace and harmony rather than violence and war. All are welcome to discuss - no admission fee.

HAT FORUM Sat. Sept 24, 11am OISE: Is Canada moving to the Right?

TOPIC: Is Canada moving to the right? FACILITATOR: Cecilia Rayo LOCATION: OISE, 252 Bloor Street W, 11am - 1pm -What kind of social, economic and environmental factors do you think are pushing Canada to the right side of the political spectrum? -If the economic distance between the wealthy and the poor continues widening, where do you think this could lead us? -Globalization and economic growth has created bonding economic connections among countries, what could Canada have done to prevent been dragged into the economic turmoil? All are welcome to discuss this question.

Rally Supporting Gay/Straight Alliances Attracts Attention and Support

Rally Supporting Gay/Straight Alliances Attracts Attention and Support

Rick Mercer Comes Out In Support Of GSA's
TORONTO, ONTARIO - The Canadian Secular Alliance rally at Queen's Park this Sunday to support gay/straight alliances in publicly funded Catholic schools has received endorsements from comedians Rick Mercer, Gavin Crawford, and Elvira Kurt.
"This rally is about supporting the rights of students," says spokesperson Kevin Smith. "It is not anti-religious." Some groups were discouraged from attending after making statements deriding religious groups.
A broad spectrum of guest speakers will discuss related issues, including ending tax privileges afforded to separate school systems in Ontario, and provincial educational equity policies that favour religious dogma.
"In addition to the violation of human rights, the province cannot afford over $500 million every year to fund a separate school system for a single religious group," Smith says.
The rally takes place from 1:30 to 3:30 PM at Queen's Park on Sunday, September 18.

Room for HAT monthly Meeting, Sat Sept 17, 1:30 is 4- 414

HAT Monthly Meeting, Sat. Sept 17, An Atheist’s travels into Missionary Ghana
TOPIC: An Atheist’s travels into Missionary Ghana
DATE: September 17, 1:30 pm, OISE, 252 Bloor Street West, ROOM 4-414

Mehdi Zabet is a student studying philosophy at U of T, president of the University of Toronto Secular Student Alliance. He spent the summer teaching in a small village in remote Ghana, Africa. This is normally the domain of Christian missionaries. This lecture will discuss his experience doing this, some of the conclusions he came to, and just as important, some of his unanswered questions.

UN honours three humanist poets – Tagore, Neruda and Césaire

UN honours three humanist poets – Tagore, Neruda and Césaired
13 September 2011 –
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today launched a programme honouring Rabindrânâth Tagore, Pablo Neruda and Aimé Césaire, three poets who, each in his own way, carried high the standard of humanist values.

Beyond their different geographic, social and political contexts, Tagore, a Bengali poet at the time that India was under British rule, Chile’s Neruda and Césaire – from the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe – showed a commitment to speaking for the voiceless.

“By challenging relations based on domination and submission – whether they concern colonialism, fascism or racism – their message attains a universal dimension,” UNESCO said at a forum opened by Director-General Irina Bokova at its headquarters in Paris.

Launched in the wake of the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures of 2010, the programme aims to promote translations, publications, and creations connected to the three writers, facilitating the dissemination and adaptation of their message. A tribute to Tagore was organized with Bangladesh’s and India’s permanent delegations to UNESCO as part of the 150th anniversary of his birth, with song, dance and poetry readings.

A UNESCO work – Rabindrânâth Tagore, Pablo Neruda, Aimé Césaire for a reconciled universal – pays tribute to this universal oeuvre. Published in English, French and Spanish, the illustrated book examines the legacy of the three authors and their messages from a comparative perspective.

Alexandre Brassard, Ph.D: Which Ontario Candidate Will Dare Address Separate School Funding?

Alexandre Brassard, Ph.D: Which Ontario Candidate Will Dare Address Separate School Funding?
"....Section 93 of the 1867 Constitution Act protects Catholic School Boards, but nothing is stopping Ontario from initiating a bilateral amendment with Ottawa. The procedure is legitimate and straightforward. It's already been done in Quebec, as well as in Newfoundland and Labrador. Clearly, the obstacles are political, not legal. In Ontario, the separate schools issue was controversial in 1985 and 2007, and the three major parties now support the status quo.

The Conservative Party is a traditional ally of religious groups, and it would risk alienating this electoral base if it promoted secularism. John Tory thought he had found a fair solution during the last election, promising to fund schools of every religion. But the proposal sparked an outcry and contributed to his electoral defeat. His successor, Tim Hudak, has learned his lesson -- he now scrupulously avoids the subject.

Ever since Mitchell Hepburn sat in the premier's office, the Liberals have usually been able to count on the Catholic vote. So it's no surprise that they too support the current system. The McGuinty government has developed an excellent equity and inclusion policy for schools, but it has not dared to impose it on uncooperative schools. As for Andrea Horwath, she is also reluctant to make waves, perhaps because the Catholic teachers' union supports the NDP.

The religious segregation of our children is expensive, regressive and unfair. It's high time we secularize Ontarios French and English schools. Politicians will take great pains to avoid the subject, so it's up to us to make it an issue during this election campaign..."

HAT Monthly Meeting, Sat. Sept 17, An Atheist’s travels into Missionary Ghana

TOPIC:  An Atheist’s travels into Missionary Ghana
DATE: September 17, 1:30 pm, OISE, 252 Bloor Street West

Mehdi Zabet is a student studying philosophy at U of T, president of the University of Toronto Secular Student Alliance. He spent the summer teaching in a small village in remote Ghana, Africa. This is normally the domain of Christian missionaries. This lecture will discuss his experience doing this, some of the conclusions he came to, and just as important, some of his unanswered questions.
For example, we as secular humanists like to think we are critical thinkers, and have no need for religion. Yet, in a very impoverished and uneducated place like Ghana, religion is part and parcel of their reality. It is the most fundamental thing that unites their family and tribal culture. We may feel it’s sad, because we know it’s a bunch of gibberish. However, Ghanians, esp. in rural areas, don’t just go to church on Sunday, they LIVE this. Their entire existence revolves around religion.
Religion is not the singular problem. It is part of a complicated set of world issues and solutions: Mehdi believes that to get to a solution that will make the earth self sustaining, we need a comprehensive look at religion which we don’t have yet. You are invited to this interesting presentation, and a discussion to follow.

Free admission, all welcome. Any questions, contact

JAMES “The Amazing” RANDI Talk and Reception | CFI event Sept 27

JAMES “The Amazing” RANDI Talk and Reception | Centre for Inquiry
(Posted by request from CFI)

James Randi has an international reputation as a magician and escape artist, but today he is best known as the world's most tireless investigator and demystifier of paranormal and pseudoscientific claims.

Randi has pursued "psychic" spoonbenders, exposed the dirty tricks of faith healers, investigated homeopathic water "with a memory", and generally been a thorn in the sides of those who try to pull the wool over public's eyes in the name of the supernatural. He is the author of numerous books, including The Truth About Uri Geller, The Faith Healers, Flim Flam!, and An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural. His lectures ( and television appearances (Johnny Carson, Penn and Teller's Bullshit) have delighted and vexed audiences around the world.

Hear "The Amazing One" talk on his unique perspective on science, magic, and how even the smartest among us can easily be fooled, and support CFI Canada. An open reception (refreshments provided) will follow in the foyer area directly adjacent to the Courtyard Hall, where the talk is held.
Tuesday, September 27th 2011 at 7:00 pm, Courtyard Marriott
Tickets are only available through online purchase HERE.
Tickets WILL NOT be sold at the door. $25 General Public (+ticketing fee) $20 CFI Canada Members (+ticketing fee)

Sex ed opponents claim victory in Ontario

Sex ed opponents claim victory in Ontario
The decision by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to back away from a controversial new sex education curriculum for the province's schools has been greeted with relief by some interest groups and concern by others.
"It's become pretty obvious to us that we should give this a serious rethink," McGuinty told reporters Thursday.
"We by no means are gloating," said Rev. Ekron Malcolm, director of the Institute for Canadian Values, "but we give God the glory. It's a victory for the Canadian children."
The new sex education curriculum that had been planned for Ontario grade schools will not be introduced when the 2010-11 school year begins, McGuinty announced.
Religious groups objected to the revised curriculum and raised a voluble campaign against it earlier this week. They promised a huge demonstration on the front lawn of Queen's Park to protest the sex education changes. "It is unconscionable to teach eight-year-old children same-sex marriage, sexual orientation and gender identity," said Charles McVety, head of the Canada Christian College.

Secular Coalition Calls for Defunding of Catholic Boards, End to Discrimination Against Gays in Publicly Funded Schools

Coalition Calls for Defunding of Catholic Boards, End to Discrimination Against Gays in Publicly Funded Schools

The Canadian Secular Alliance and its allies are hosting a rally in front of the Legislature at Queen's Park on September 18 from 1:30-3:30 p.m. to demand:

• The end of the over $500 million taxpayer subsidization for the promotion of the Roman Catholic religion. Public funding for the expensive duplicate school system must be eliminated to provide one secular publicly funded school system.
• The protection of equality rights for all students—including gay students—by ending the constitutional privilege afforded Roman Catholics to overrule legislation and the courts in favour of religious dogma.

"Equality for all students means ending privileged access to public schools for favoured religious services," says CSA President Greg Oliver.
Speakers represent a cross section of the religious and non-religious.

Alert to HAT members: HAT library moving out of CFI on Berkeley

CFI is moving from it's bigger space on St George to a small unit at 2 College. The move is soon, in October. As CFI no longer have space to store their books, our HAT library of 550 books, or our piano, we must find a location for the books and piano quickly. We have a list of the books, some of which are Humanist titles, but many are (by now) outdated science and history textbooks and other items which are no longer of commercial or academic interest. We have contacted the Toronto Public Library and the University of Toronto Library, but have not received any interest. The Steering Committee therefore asks: . 1) If anyone can donate a large dry, accessible space to house 550 books, please let our library, Maria Kochan, know immediately. 2) If you donated a book to the HAT library, and wish to retrieve it, you may do so by contacting Maria Kochan, the librarian, before Oct 1, at: Kochan, Maria - 3) If you would like to arrange to look at the books, and either buy one at a low fee or discuss an arrangement, please contact Maria before Oct 1. 4) After Oct 1, we will (probably) add our books to the CFI sale, and receive a portion of the proceeds. Maria has contacted several schools to ask if anyone can use the piano (apartment size), which needs extensive repair and work. We have not yet heard positively from anyone, but may still do so. If you can move/house/fix the piano, please let Maria know. Thank-you! HAT steering committee.

AYAAN HIRSI ALI, on TVO's Big Ideas, 5pm Sept 4

AYAAN HIRSI ALI, TVO's Big Ideas, 5pm Sept 4. Somali-born author Ayaan Hirsi Ali delivers the 2010 Donner Canadian Foundation Lecture. Her lecture, based on her book Nomad: From Islam to America, is followed by a lengthy Q & A. | Books | Nomad by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

In her powerful new memoir, the #1 bestselling author of Infidel tells the stirring story of her search for a new life as she tries to reconcile her Islamic past with her passionate adherence to democracy and Western values. A unique blend of personal narrative and reportage, moving,  wryly funny at times, Nomad gives us an inside view of her battle for equality in the face of considerable odds.

Ayaan captured the world's attention with Infidel, the eye-opening memoir of her childhood in Africa and Saudi Arabia, and her escape to Holland en route to a forced marriage in Canada. Nomad is the story of what happened after the Dutch director with whom she made a documentary about the domestic abuse of Muslim women was murdered by a radical Islamist and death threats forced her into hiding; of her bid to start a new life in America; of her renewed contact with her family on her father's death; and of her attempts to live by her adopted principles. With deep understanding, and through vivid anecdotes, and observations of people, cultures, and the political debacles that are engulfing the world, she takes us with her on an illuminating, unforgettable journey.

Schedule | Humanist Canada Conference 2011

Schedule | Humanist Canada Conference 2011.
Here is the schedule of speakers for the Humanist Association of Canada conference Sept 30-Oct 2 in Toronto. The theme is:

Planetary Overload: The Survival of the Human Species.

Speakers include: Madeline Weld, Chris di Carlo, Matt Cherry (IHEU), Mike Nikerson, John Shook, Khalid Sohail, Jason Wiles, Dale Jackaman

HAT FORUM, Sat. Aug 27, 11am - 1pm "Memory"

HAT Forum, Saturday, August 27, 2011
LOCATION:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street W.  Room 2-198
Facilitator: Cornelis van de Graaff
TOPIC:  Memory
“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”    Santayana. (1863 – 1952)

What is Memory ?Is Memory selective? How and why ?
Can we control our own Memory ? Should we attempt this ?
How long should we dwell on the past?
Is our Memory ALWAYS beneficial - Should we dwell on bad Memories ?
Are we more inclined to remember  the positive or the negative - Do we have a choice ?
Can we control or errase parts of our Memory  ?
What is the purpose of War Memorials ? “Lest we forget” may have been the cause of more new strife than the strife it remembered.

We can only remember events, from our own personal viewpoint.
Are we always able to make allowances for this - Should we? How ?
Is Santayana always right ?

HAT FORUM, Sat Aug 20, 11am - 1pm, OISE

HAT FORUM: Saturday, August 20, 11am - 1pm, OISE 252 Bloor St W room 2-198
Topic: Neighbourhoods
Facilitator: Moses Klein

Is your neighbourhood an anonymous place where people happen to live near each other, or is it something more? What makes a neighbourhood a civic or community unit? How can we make neighbourhoods into communities? Should we try?

All welcome, HAT members and new guests. 

HAT FORUM: Sat Aug 13, 11am -1 PM, OISE: "Beauty"

DATE:  Sat Aug 13, 11am - 1pm
LOCATION:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street W, Room 2-198
TOPIC: Beauty: what is the nature of beauty? What makes something beautiful? is it perfection? is it something else?
FACILITATOR:  Robin Russell
All are welcome.
The meeting is open to HAT members and the general public.  Those who wish to join HAT may ask for a membership form at the FORUM meeting.


Hudak ‘may have’ signed an anti-abortion petition | Posted | National Post

Hudak ‘may have’ signed an anti-abortion petition
(Hudak - really, really scary...almost a smarter (sic), cleaner, Ford) Bad times ahead.

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak said Monday he has no interest in reopening Canada’s abortion debate, despite being called “pro-life” by a Christian political website.

Mr. Hudak was questioned by reporters at a press conference intended to promote a policy targeting convicted sex offenders. He said he “may have” signed petitions in his riding calling to end abortion funding in the past, but would follow Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s lead and leave the issue alone if elected premier in the Oct. 6 Ontario election.

“Let me be clear: we are not reopening this debate,” he told reporters at Queen’s Park. “Just like the federal Parliament, we would not be reopening that issue.”

On its website, the Association for Reformed Political Action says Mr. Hudak “made it clear that he is pro-life and has signed petitions calling for abortion defunding and conscience legislation.” The post refers to a questionnaire sent to candidates during the 2009 PC leadership race rating where they stood on key issues. The national non-profit organization says its mission is to “shine the light of God’s Word to Canada’s municipal, provincial, and federal governments” by making members of reformed churches part of public debate.

ARPA clarified on its website Monday afternoon that the email came from Mr. Hudak’s campaign team, not Mr. Hudak himself, but verified the post’s contents were correct.

Summer Party - Reminder! Aug 21, 4-8pm

END OF SUMMER POTLUCK PARTY,  Sunday, August 21st, from 4 p.m. to 8p.m
SAVE THE DATE, and please volunteer!

Once again, we are invited to gather at the family home of Moses Klein, 123 Howland Avenue, north of Bloor in the Annex

Stimulating conversation, fine company, good food and fun!
Please contact Food Co-ordinator to discuss contributions : Caitriona Hughes (647) 781- 8100
(note: this party is for HAT members only.  However, if you wish to attend and become at member at the party, let us know!) 

HAT archival project

Maria Kochan is working on an archival project for HAT, collecting interesting and historical items relating to the history of the Humanist Association of Toronto.

We invite anyone who has items to contribute to contact Maria, and also to bring items along to the Summer Party.  Please contact Maria for more information.

Maria Kochan,, or call:  416-466-8092

Exhibit of Claude Miles Photographs, Aug 3, Baycrest, 11am

Regarding the exhibits of Claude Mile's photographs at Baycrest tomorrow (Aug 3), here is some more information from Bridgette Miles, Claude's daughter, with an invitation for you all:

My father prints will be on display at Baycrest (water cooler).
We are having a light reception  Aug 03, at 11am, welcome all!

The Baycrest Hospital is located on Bathurst Street just south of Wilson Avenue.
It is the hospital where Claude received palliative care.

HAT BOOK GROUP: Sunday Sept 18, 11am OISE

HAT BOOK READING GROUP is on Summer Hiatus.
The next book discussion will be on Sunday, September 18th, Sunday from 11:00 am to 12:30 at OISE
Title: The Solitude of Emperors by Davidar, David. 2007,  246 p.
65 copies in Library
Suffocating in the small-town world of his parents, Vijay is desperate to escape to the raw energy of Bombay in the early 1990s. His big chance arrives unexpectedly when the family servant, Raju, is recruited by a right-wing organization. As a result of an article he writes about the increasing power of sectarian politicians, Vijay gets a job in a small Bombay publication, The Indian Secularist.

There he meets Rustom Sorabjee — the inspirational founder of the magazine who opens Vijay’s eyes to the damage caused to the nation by the mixing of religion and politics. As discord surrounding the local shrine comes to a head, Vijay tries to alert the authorities to the dangers, but his intervention will have consequences he could never have foreseen. The Solitude of Emperors is a stunningly perceptive novel about modern India, what drives fundamentalist beliefs, and what makes someone driven, bold, or mad enough to make a stand.
For info, contact: Jody Perrin @ 416-925-3395

HAT FORUM, Sat. July 30, 11am - 1PM OISE

HAT FORUM:  Sat. July 30, 11am - 1pm, OISE, 252 Bloor Street W
TOPIC: Question: In the changing and overlapping relationships between atheisms, humanisms and secularisms, where do we (as individuals and as a HAT group) wish to position ourselves?

1) Some definition are useful: atheism, humanism, secularism and life-stance (bring your definitions if you can and see some definitions on the HAT website)
2) Does atheism lead to a humanist life stance?
3) Does secularism lead to a humanist life-stance?
4) Can we actualize our commitment to free thought and understanding and welcome any who choose to adopt a humanist life-stance?
(These persons may be atheist but they also might be agnostic, free-thinking, feminist, pan-theist or even secular religious.)

HAT FORUM Sat, July 23, 11am - 1pm, OISE

HAT FORUM:  Saturday, July 23, 2011, 11am - 1pm
O.I.S.E. 252 Bloor Street W, Rm 10-200
Facilitator:  Bill Kennedy
Topic: The riddle of personalities.

1. Their source?
2. Their changeability?
3. Their incompatibility?
4. Their connection to temperament?
5. Their connection to character?

HAT Forum: Saturday July 16, OISE 252 Bloor Street West. Room TBD

HAT Forum: Saturday July 16, OISE 252 Bloor Street West. Room TBD
Time: 11am to 1pm
Facilitator: Alex Benedek

In its socially beneficial context, Intentional Community is an inclusive term for ecovillages, cohousing communities, residential land trusts, communes, student co-ops, urban housing cooperatives, intentional living, alternative communities, cooperative living, and other projects where people strive together with a socially acceptable common vision.

Link to for more information on the topic of socially beneficial communities.

The most informative internet site that describes “perverse” criminal communities such as youth gangs, motorcycle gangs, ethnic mafias and a variety of legally borderline secret societies is  Sociologically speaking they are also “intentional communities”.

When do communities turn “perverse” and what can society do about it?

ROM: Maya: Secrets of their Ancient World

Royal Ontario Museum | Maya: Secrets of their Ancient World
New exhibit coming to the ROM which also promises to:
"...reveal the truth behind the 2012 'end of days' legend"  

Maya: Secrets of their Ancient World transports visitors to this advanced Mesoamerican culture, including its social organization, ritual activities and ceremonies, predictions around the end of the world and the mysterious collapse of the Classic Maya culture in the 9th century.
Visitors will also learn about the complex calendar, elaborate writing system, and sophisticated architecture and urban centres developed by the Maya. Imagine daily life at a royal court and explore the rulers' connections to their environment, the divine, the cosmos and the passage of time, and the Maya people.
The exhibition features nearly 250 artifacts, including sculptures, ceramics, masks and other precious works, many of which were associated with Maya temples and palaces. Mainly dating to the Maya Classic Period (250 to 900 AD), many of the objects have never before been seen in Canada and are recognized as among the most important archaeological finds ever discovered.
To complement its historically significant artifacts, the exhibition will feature audio-visual components and touchable models for the whole family. Exciting and informative Maya-inspired programs will further engage and inform visitors.

HAT FORUM Sat July 9, 11am - 1pm "Economic Dependency"

HAT FORUM: Sat July 9,  OISE 252 Bloor Street W, Room TBD
TIME:  11am - 1pm Are Government Social Assistance Programs to Aboriginal and Welfare Moderator:  Marilyn Miller
Topic:  Groups, Provincial Transfer Payments, Corporate Bailouts and Foreign Aid Creating Economic Dependency Traps for Recipients?

Moderator:  Marilyn Miller
Calvin Helin, a native American author, lawyer, and international businessman has analyzed economic dependency patterns across native, ethnic, social class, business, and national and international government entities published in two recent books, The Dance of Dependency, 2008, and The Economic Dependency Trap:  Breaking Free to Self Reliance, 2011. 

 “The dependency mindset has become deeply ingrained in generations of cultures that have been dependent on welfare, such as inner-city African Americans, Latinos, and poor southern whites and the people of western Ireland as well as East Germany’s formerly communist population and people through the African continent.”

 “The fallout, in terms of social pathology and dysfunctional attitudes throughout the world, is surprisingly similar to that experienced by indigenous people exposed to enforced dependency as a result of government policy.” “In regard to the indigenous people of North America, welfare has spawned an artificial environment that has led to a dependency mindset over many generations” in contrast to their earlier culture of self-reliance and interdependent family and tribal cooperation.

  1. If a dependency mindset can result under conditions of external social economic support, can this also be a problem for adult children raised in middle-class and wealthy families “affluenza”?
  1. Is there a greater problem facing modern society that welfare reliance has become the preferred lifestyle for many families socialized into this way of life?
  1. Since more money  given to people on social assistance does not break the poverty cycle, in large part due to reinforced dependency, would the same amount of money invested in sending welfare recipients to college, university, and trade schools  to acquire marketable skills, confidence and self respect be more successful?

City Poised to Kill Support for Local Food | Toronto Environmental Alliance

City Poised to Kill Support for Local Food | Toronto Environmental Alliance

Toronto: Late this morning a City of Toronto committee refused to adopt a policy that would direct City staff to buy local food, when appropriate, instead of imported food that may come from thousands of miles away. The policy will now go to City Council in two weeks time for debate.

“While the rest of the world is moving towards supporting local food, Canada’s largest city is poised to kill its support,” said Franz Hartmann, Executive Director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) which has been advocating for local food for over 4 years. “Here in Ontario, all the political parties at Queen’s Park support a ‘buy local food’ policy. Do we really want to be the city that says no to fresh, local food and yes to food that is jet-lagged?”

The City of Toronto spends about $11 million a year purchasing food for city-run daycares, shelters and seniors’ homes. Back in 2008, City Council agreed to a 50% “buy local food” target. Since then, staff have been working on ways to meet this target and figuring out what the Province can do to change regulations that work against supporting local food.

“It makes no sense why Councillors would vote against supporting local food,” said Hartmann “Why would anyone vote against a policy that aims to get fresh, local food to people in city-run daycares and seniors’ homes? And why would anyone vote against a policy that helps local farmers and the environment without costing Toronto taxpayers more?”

Hartmann said that TEA will be working with its members and all those that support local food in Toronto to get Council to adopt the policy that supports local food. “Today’s decision sends the wrong signal to our farming neighbours and to food processors here in Toronto who use local food,” said Hartmann. “By voting against the policy, they are effectively saying fresher and in-season cheaper local food is not welcome in Toronto.”

Friday prayer service at school necessary for Muslim students: board

Friday prayer service at school necessary for Muslim students: board Kristin Rushowy
The Toronto public board should have held public consultations before allowing a school cafeteria to be the site of Friday afternoon prayer services for Muslim students, says an education professor.

'These things should have been debated,' said Sarfaroz Niyozov of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. 'These question of how far or how much schools should be accommodating — the parameters of accommodation — needs to be discussed.'

One Hindu group has said it will protest outside Valley Park Middle School starting this fall until the practice is abolished. Niyozov said there may also be differing views among Muslims themselves as to how to handle Friday prayers. “This raises questions that policy-makers, scholars and those responsible for (the school board) should be taking into consideration before even making a decision.”

Toronto’s public school board says it was approached by a group of parents at Valley Park school, at Don Mills Rd. and Overlea Blvd., about allowing students to take part in Friday prayers at the school, bringing in an imam, instead of them trekking to a nearby mosque.

Board spokesperson Shari Schwartz-Maltz said the sheer number of students leaving the school — some 300 to 400 out of 1,200 — was a factor in the decision, as well as the amount of class time they lost making the trip. Safety was also a concern...
Critics have raised questions not just about religious services in a public school, but also about how boys and girls are separated at Valley Park during the service — with girls in the back, behind a divider — or that girls who are menstruating sit on the sidelines and not take part.

Education Minister Leona Dombrowsky was not available for comment, but just last year the ministry implemented an inclusive policy, based on the Ontario Human Rights Code. Jim Spyropoulos, the board’s superintendent of inclusive schools, said each school will come up with its own solution to best fit student needs.

As for religious practices that raise questions of gender equity, he said 'because prayer is not conducted under the auspices of the board, we don’t have the right to tell people how to pray.'


THE PREVIOUS TOPIC,  (Funding for the Arts) is postponed.

HAT FORUM:  Sat. July 2, 11am - 1pm.
LOCATION:   OISE, 252 Bloor Street W, Room 10-204
TOPIC:   How is economic dependency affecting society
FACILITATOR:  Michael Rosenberg. 

HAT FORUM Sat July 2, 11am - 1pm, OISE "The Arts - funding priorities" [CHANGE OF TOPIC, SEE NEW POSTING]


HAT FORUM: Saturday July 2, 11am - 1pm, OISE 252 Bloor Street W. (ROOM TBD)
TOPIC: The Arts - Relevance, Funding priorities, public perceptions

The Arts contribute to society in many ways - but are often underfunded and undersupported, compared to sports facilities and other public amenities. The Dora Awards are being held on Monday night, so here is a discussion about the Arts in Canada.

How is the contribution of the arts to society valued?
How can we increase both public perception of the value of arts, and public funding?

HAT FORUM Satu June 25, OISE 11am - 1pm

HAT FORUM: Sat. June 25, OISE, 252 Bloor Street West, 11am - 1pm. Room 2-198
FACILITATOR: Cornelis van de Graaff
Topic: When do I (we) interfere?

As a person as well as a nation? when do we intervee, and when not?
What should stop us?
If we see a wrong, should we make an attempt to right it, even if this is not our area of responsibility, or we see some one do something really stupid with bad results for himself only?
How do we act when we see some one cheating, stealing or behaving in a bad manner.
Are we the keepers of each other's morality?
Should we stand up for what is right?

HAT BOOK GROUP: July 10, OISE , 11am - 12:30pm

HAT BOOK GROUP, Sunday July 10, OISE, 11am - 12:30pm
BOOK: Empire of illusion : the end of literacy and the triumph of spectacle, by Chris Hedges, 2009. Library: 41 hold, available at local bookstores.

In this provocative book, Hedges (Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist; former Middle East bureau chief of The New York Times; now senior fellow, the Nation Institute) looks at what he deems the US's spiraling downfall and argues that the country's current moral and cultural collapse is caused by its ubiquitous embrace of illusion. Looking at the patently fake world of wrestling, the pornography industry, elite universities, positive psychology, and the profound 2009 financial crisis, Hedges argues that as a culture the US has been denied, or has perhaps passively given up, the linguistic intellectual tools to separate illusion from reality.

HAT Forum June 18, 11am - 1pm: Social Progress and Fiscal Responsibility

LOCATION: OISE, 252 Bloor Street W, Room 2-198
TOPIC: Social progress & Fiscal Responsibility

- how do we improve the human condition while being fiscally responsible?
- what are the consequences of the nations of the world continually going deeper into national debt? of municipalities? of individuals?
- does it really matter?
- How do we choose which competing needs receive the funding? Is it working?

Does religion belong at AA? Fight over ‘God’ splits Toronto AA groups

STAR: Does religion belong at AA? Fight over ‘God’ splits Toronto AA groups

AA uses 'fellowship' to help chronic drinkers quit the bottle. But there is little fellowship in a schism that splintered the Alcoholics Anonymous umbrella group in the GTA this week.

At issue is this question: Do alcoholics need God? On Tuesday, Toronto’s two secular AA groups, known as Beyond Belief and We Agnostics, were removed or 'delisted' from the roster of local meetings. They’ve disappeared from the Toronto AA website and will not be in the next printed edition of the Toronto directory.

The dispute started when Beyond Belief posted an adapted version of AA’s hallowed “Twelve Steps” on the Toronto website. They removed the word “God” from the steps, which are used as a kind of road map to help drinkers achieve sobriety.

'They took issue with a public display of secular AA,' says Joe C., who founded Beyond Belief, Toronto’s first agnostic AA group, 18 months ago. (In keeping with AA’s tradition of anonymity, members are identified by first names only.)

It proved popular enough that a second group started up last fall; it took its name from a chapter in the AA bible entitled Alcoholics Anonymous, commonly known as the Big Book. The group, We Agnostics, had only recently completed the paperwork to be part of AA before being booted out. 'What is unusual is that this didn’t happen in some backwater, but that it happened in a liberal, democratic, pluralistic place like Toronto,' says Joe.

The name of God appears four times in the Twelve Steps and echoes the period in which they were written — the 1930s. It invites those seeking sobriety to turn themselves over to God, who will remove their 'defects of character.' They go on to speak of God’s will for the recovering alcoholic.

'They (the altered Twelve Steps) are not our Twelve Steps,' says an AA member who was at Tuesday’s meeting of the coordinating body known as the Greater Toronto Area Intergroup. 'They’ve changed them to their own personal needs. They should never have been listed in the first place.' He says that in the early days of AA, meetings ended with the Lord’s Prayer. 'That has obviously stopped in all but hard-core groups. We welcome people with open arms. In our group we still say the Lord’s Prayer. One guy was uncomfortable with that. I told him to just step back when we pray. He does. He’s doing what he needs to do for him.'

The issue of AA’s use of God has come up frequently over the past 50 years. For the most part, the organization — which claims 113,000 groups around the world — permits other agencies to imitate its program, but not to call themselves Alcoholics Anonymous.
Other secular organizations, including Save our Selves (or Secular Organizations for Sobriety), offer addiction help similar to AA. But with some 100,000 members in 2005, SOS is far less popular than AA, which reports a membership of about two million. In Toronto alone, there are 500 AA meetings a week.

'This is not the first we’ve gone up against bigotry,' says Larry of We Agnostics. 'This has been an ongoing struggle in North America.'

HAT FORUM, Sat. June 11, 11am-1pm. OISE

DATE: Sat June 11, 11am - 1pm
LOCATION: OISE, 252 Bloor Street West, Room 2-198
TOPIC: Revenge and Forgiveness

What is the difference between Justice and Revenge?
Revenge is a powerful feeling that leads to action that can be very destructive.
How can we avoid letting this feeling lead our actions at the personal or group level?
Forgiveness doesn't come easily, and may depend on the offense received.
What do you think are the limits for forgiveness, if any?
Forgiveness is sometimes viewed as "turn the other cheek".
What is the difference between Justice and Revenge, in this regard, if any?

All are welcome

HAT Forum, sat. June 4, OISE Room 2-198

Saturday, June 4, 2011  OISE Room 2-198
TOPIC: Tim Hudak’s Chain Gang Idea: An exploration of humanists’ reactions on first meeting the idea.
1. What was your first reaction?
2. What is your reaction one week later?
Facilitator: Bill Kennedy

HAT FORUMS FOR JUNE: 1:00 am to 1:00 pm OISE ROOM 2-198

HAT FORUMS FOR JUNE: 11:00 am to 1:00 pm  OISE   ROOM 2-198   
(Topics to be announced)

Event: Dying with Dignity AGM Sunday June 5

Dying with Dignity has notified HAT that their annual general meeting will be held on Sunday, June 5th, at the Toronto Public Library, 40 Orchard View Blvd (just west of Yonge, 1.5 blocks north of Eglinton) at 1pm.

If you are a member, or would like to be a member and wish to attend, pls phone 416-486-3998 to reserve a seat.

HAT FORUM: Sat May 28, 11am-1pm, OISE "Environment and Election"

HAT FORUM, Saturday, May 28, 11am - 1pm,
LOCATION:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street West, Room 11-204
TOPIC: Why wasn't our relationship with the environment an issue in  the recent federal election?

All are welcome.

End of the World is a $72 Million business

May 21 End of the World: Harold Camping's $72M business
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- By now, you've probably heard of the religious group that's predicting the end of the world starts this weekend.
(NOTE: Cross-posting this from HumanistNewsWire because SC member Mary confronted these guys in Times Square last month, and asked if they had mortgages. They all said "yes, so what?" They obviously aren't going anywhere on May 21, except home to a good salary...)

Harold Camping and his devoted followers claim a massive earthquake will mark the second coming of Jesus, or so-called Judgment Day on Saturday, May 21, ushering in a five month period of catastrophes before the world comes to a complete end in October. At the center of it all, Camping's organization, Family Radio, is perfectly happy to take your money -- and in fact, received $80 million in contributions between 2005 and 2009. Camping founded Family Radio, a nonprofit Christian radio network based in Oakland, Calif. with about 65 stations across the country, in 1958. But not even all of his own employees are convinced that the world is ending on Saturday. In fact, many still plan on showing up at work on Monday.

"I don't believe in any of this stuff that's going on, and I plan on being here next week," a receptionist at their Oakland headquarters told CNNMoney. A program producer in Illinois told us, "We're going to continue doing what we're doing."

According to their most recent IRS filings, Family Radio is almost entirely funded by donations, and brought in $18 million in contributions in 2009 alone. Take a look at Family Radio's IRS filings According to those financial documents, accountants put the total worth of Family Radio (referred to as Family Stations on its official forms) at $72 million. With those kind of financials -- and controversial beliefs -- it's no wonder skeptics have accused the group of running a scam.

Camping first inaccurately predicted the world would end in 1994. Even so, he has gathered even more followers -- some who have given up their homes, entire life savings and their jobs because they believe the world is ending. Esther, the receptionist in the Oakland office, said some of her most extreme coworkers have recently driven up in fancy cars or taken their families on nice vacations as a last hurrah.

But overall, she estimates about 80% of her coworkers don't even agree with Camping's May 21 forecast. She has stuck to her work as usual, booking appointments and filling up calendars for her coworkers well beyond the May 21 date. Meanwhile, some employees are questioning the meaning of Harold Camping's goodbye letter sent to the Family Radio mailing list last week. While he says farewell, he encourages employees to "steadfastly continue to stand with us to proclaim the Gospel through Family Radio."

Could that mean he plans on disappearing, but the company should still go about its business as usual? The producer in Illinois said, "We're trying to guess what it means for the company. Our producers have programs done through the end of the month, so we're not looking at that having any effect on the work."

Also curious is why Family Radio filed for an extension to file their financial paperwork. The group is required to file financial paperwork in many of the states where they solicit donations, and in Minnesota they requested an extension from their July 15 deadline to November 15.

"At first glance, it looks like they have a lot of assets, but they actually don't have a lot of cash that they're stockpiling," said Laurie Styron, analyst with the American Institute of Philanthropy. Most of the group's net worth is tied up in FCC broadcasting licenses, valued at $56 million. Family Radio claimed it held only $1.5 million in cash on its books at the end of 2009. The paperwork shows Camping has so far, never taken a penny for his own salary, but Family Radio has plenty of other paid employees.

Skippy's Atheist BLog becomes Leave Faith Behind

A note from Jeffrey Olsson former creator of Skippy's Atheist Blog, which was listed on our website blog roll.
I have folded that blog and now use LEAVE FAITH BEHIND a website name that is similar to the name of my new book "Leaving Faith Behind".

Thanks for keeping my blog on your website, I appreciate the publicity!

Jeffrey Olsson
President, Humanist Association of Manitoba

HAT FORUM, Sat. May 21 (Woodsworth College)

HAT Forum
Saturday, May 21, 11am,
Topic: Amnesty and impunity
Facilitator: Moses Klein
Location: Woodsworth College Residence.
(WCR) is the new building at the south east corner of Bloor and St. George.
From Bloor walk down St. George to the southern most entrance of the building; it faces St. George and its glass doors announce 'ROTMAN COMMERCE'. Ignore that. You are looking for a classroom at the basement level, so enter and take the wide yellow staircase down. At the bottom, just look around. The closest room on your right is marked WO 20. That’s ours. - Thanks Bill!

Should deposed dictators be prosecuted for abuses committed while in power? Do such prosecutions deter the crimes of the powerful, or encourage more desperate abuses by those afraid to lose power? Under what circumstances, if any, is amnesty advisable?"

May 17 is IDAHO, International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

UK Humanists support new parliamentary motion on International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO)
(Note: Lady Gaga guest Editor in Chief for Metro on the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia     On May 17th, Lady Gaga will be acting editor in chief for all  editions of the worldwide free daily paper METRO !  Ahead of the release of her new album ’Born This Way’ on May 23rd, the  global Diva will be commenting on global issues on May 17th, in a  renewed expression of her very visible commitment for Human Rights.  Says Maggie Samways, executive vice president and global  editor-in-chief. “Lady Gaga is an extraordinary force, and we’re both  excited to explore the issues of equality and human ...)

The British Humanist Association (BHA) and the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) have come together to back a new initiative in support of the seventh annual International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia  (IDAHO). The organisations worked with Liberal Democrat MP Stephen  Gilbert in tabling an ‘Early Day Motion’ (EDM) in support of IDAHO,  which has co-sponsoring MPs from across the political parties.
IDAHO, held annually on 17 May, is a day to promote anti-homophobic  and anti-transphobic messages on a global level. The aim of IDAHO is to  increase awareness of the problem of world-wide homophobia and  transphobia, and to provide a platform for activity at all levels in the  fight against discrimination and persecution.
UK  EDM 1780 states: That this House welcomes the annual International  Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on 17 May 2011; supports those  local authorities, police, health authorities and voluntary  organisations who will mark this day with events, campaigns and  statements of support; further supports the raising of the rainbow flag  to reaffirm that homophobia and transphobia are unacceptable wherever  they occur, whether in the UK or around the world; and calls on the  Government to bring full equality to lesbian, gay, bisexual and  transgender (LGBT) people in the UK and to actively encourage equality  for LGBT people around the world.
Stephen Gilbert MP stated, ‘Around the world gay,  lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people continue to experience  discrimination and prejudice at home, at school, in the office and in  the street and it’s time this changed.  Equality for the LGBT community  isn’t an optional extra for Governments around the world – it’s time  that the community was treated with the same respect and enjoyed the  same rights and opportunities as the straight community.’
BHA Head of Public Affairs Naomi Phillips commented,  ‘We just need to look at the serious moves to impose prison sentences  and even the death penalty for gay people in Uganda, the position of  Anglican churches in Africa towards gay people, the Vatican’s refusal to  sign a UN resolution calling for the decriminalisation of  homosexuality, or the execution of gay teenagers in Iran, to see that  religiously-inspired hatred against people because of who they are or  who they sleep with remains a deep problem in many parts of the world.  It is ever-more important to join together with others to tackle the  rise in homophobic and transphobic violence and hate throughout the  world.
‘Discrimination and persecution of people who are lesbian, gay,  bisexual or transgendered continues to exist, so we urge people to show  support for IDAHO, and to ask their MPs to sign this EDM in order to  demonstrate recognition of this important day at all levels.’
Derek Lennard from the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association  said, ‘GALHA has been very pleased to coordinate IDAHO activities in  the UK since its formation in 2005. We very much appreciate the support  of the BHA in doing this and look forward to the day when LGBT people  from around the world have full and equal rights.’
HAT meetings are free and open to members and the public. Call (416) 966-1361 for location information. ___________________________________________________
The Humanist Forum meets Saturday morning 11am-1pm.
The Monthly Meeting, is usually the second Saturday at 1:30pm; specifics should be found on this blog.
The Steering Committee meets the first Wednesday of each month, at 7pm.
The Book Group usually meets on the first Saturday afternoon of the month.