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.


The HAT Spring 2011 Newsletter has been published, and is available to read from THIS LINK

HAT AGM 2011, Saturday April 16, 11am OISE, Room 5-260

REMINDER! The 2011 HAT Annual General Meeting will be held at 11:00 a.m.on Saturday, April 16th, 2011 at OISE, 252 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario, in ROOM 5-260.

On the agenda, will be the announcement of Humanist of the Year, and also the Election of Officers.
If you are a member and not able to attend, you may download a Proxy here

You may also renew your membership by downloading a 2011 Membership form here.

The following positions are to be filled.  Some current officers may put their names forward to run for positions, but other positions will be vacated.  We encourage all members to consider running, and to help us elect a new slate of officers.

Membership Secretary
Recording Secretary
Newsletter Editor
Programme Coordinator
Web Administrator
External Representative
Member at Large (3)

Dying with Dignity AGM, Friday April 1, 1:30 PM, Toronto

Toronto Area Members Alert!
Reminder: Special member Meeting on Friday April 1, 2011 at 1:30 pm.
As previously announced, this Friday DWD is holding a General Member Meeting to re-register as a charity. Please come to this short but critical meeting on Friday April 1 at 1:30 PM at the Toronto Public Library, 40 Orchard View Boulevard, Toronto.

After the business meeting, stay for special presentations about our Client Support Program and its work with members who choose to hasten their dying.

What Should the Future Hold for Dying With Dignity Canada?
The Board and Staff of Dying With Dignity Canada need to make some significant decisions about the future of DWD – and we need your input! What is more important to you?
  • Working to change the laws in Canada around medically-assisted dying
  • Supporting people at the end of their lives within our existing laws
  • Educating people about the importance of having an Advance Care Plan:
  • Having the ability to speak out on all issues at any time
  • Have a say on these and other critical questions about the future of Dying With Dignity Canada.

HAT Forum, Saturday April 2, 11:30am - 1pm, OISE, "Libya" room 11-200

HAT Forum, Saturday, April 2, Room 11-200
Topic: International Intervention in Libya
Facilitator: Moses Klein

Is the current international intervention in Libya an appropriate action? Under what conditions can or should we accept foreign military intervention in a country's civil wars? What limitations should apply to the form of such interventions?
Note: Juan Cole as usual has a lot of background information translated from Arab news networks, and a lively debate on intervention, including a roundup of Obama's speech and opposition response.

Petition: Tell Ontario's Ministry of Education: Taxpayers Should Not Be Funding Homophobic Schools

Petition: Tell Ontario's Ministry of Education: Taxpayers Should Not Be Funding Homophobic Schools . (brought to our attention by Moses)

The gay news source Xtra! reports that all 29 Catholic School Boards in Ontario effectively ban the forming of Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs). Some may claim this is just religious freedom, but in Ontario, Catholic schools are funded by taxpayer dollars. So LGBT people and straight allies are paying to teach kids that being gay is shameful, sinful, and something that can be avoided if swept under the rug.

Xtra! contacted the 29 Catholic school boards in the province. None of them reported having a GSA, which is contrary to what activists and politicians have been reporting.

"We support student clubs that support inclusiveness, especially for students who might otherwise feel marginalized. But all our clubs must, however, adhere to the Catholic teachings and values," Gerald Casey, Superintendent of Education for the Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board, said to Xtra!.

Casey then he told the reporter that, if a student asked to start a gay-straight alliance, the answer would be no.

Ontario Catholic School curriculum comes from the Institute for Catholic Education, and the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario (ACBO) is the final authority on what is and is not "Catholic" in the province. A report published by the ACBO promotes the idea that students who have same-sex attraction are not homosexual. They just need to avoid sex. That is not a reasonable option, nor something wise to be teaching students.

This needs to stop. Either Catholic Schools need to reverse their policies on gay-straight spaces in high schools, or Ontario taxpayers need to stop being forced to contribute to the promotion of intolerance and oppression. The petition below targets the latter matter. Tell the Ontario Ministry of Education that citizens should not have to contribute to schools with hateful and damaging policies that are just about as un-Canadian as you can get.
End taxpayer funding for Ontario Catholic Schools
Dear Minister Dombrowsky and Ms. Moroz,
I am writing to ask you to put an end to taxpayer funding for Ontario Catholic school boards.
As I am sure you are aware, there has been outrage recently over the fact that Ontario's Catholic School Boards do not allow gay-straight alliances in their schools. Telling children that they can form equity groups, and yet not use the word gay, is both intolerant and oppressive. In fact, it goes against everything that makes Canada such a wonderful, inclusive and diverse country.

The fact that these schools operate under policies that do not even allow kids to be openly homosexual is problematic. Telling a youth that acting on their natural feelings and desires is a "mortal sin" only contributes to poor mental health, low self-esteem and overall unhappiness. Kids should not be told that they need to live a life of celibacy to be worthy. And, since this is in fact what they are being told, taxpayers should not be funding this hatred.

I urge you to put a stop to public funding of Catholic school boards in Ontario, at least until their policies start to align with the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

(sign petition at the link above)

HAT FORUM: Sat. March 26. 11am OISE: "Multiculturalism"

HAT FORUM - all are welcome
DATE:  Sat. March 26, 11am - 1pm
LOCATION:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street W, Room 2-198

Multiculturalism in the 21st century

The individual's freedom would be hampered if he were locked for life within a particular cultural compartment by the accident of birth or language. … A policy of multiculturalism within a bilingual framework commends itself to the government as the most suitable means of assuring the cultural freedom of Canadians. Such a policy should help break down discriminatory attitudes and cultural jealousies.  National unity if it is to mean anything in the deeply personal sense, must be founded on confidence in one's own individual identity; out of this can grow respect for that of others and a willingness to share ideas, attitudes and assumptions.  A vigorous policy of multiculturalism will help create this initial confidence.  It can form the base of a society which is based on fair play for all.
 Pierre Trudeau - October 8, 1971

In the forty years since Pierre Trudeau wrote these words, multiculturalism in many ways has come to define Canada.  Canada in the 21st century strives to be a diverse land which welcomes those of any culture.  However, multiculturalism is not without its flaws and its critics, and many other countries which attempted to adopt multiculturalism have since declared it to be a failure.

Has the great multicultural experiment created the kind of society envisioned by Trudeau and others in the 70’s?  How has multiculturalism changed what it means to be a Canadian?

Event: Cafe Scientifique, March 19, 4pm, Toronto (Rivoli)

Cafe Scientifique (Mississauga group) is scheduling a Meetup in Toronto
Saturday, March 19, 4pm, The Rivoli, 334 Queen Street W.  FREE
Convener:  Dr. Kevin Saldhana
Topic:  Is there a formula for Beauty?
(The Golden Section, Fibonacci, art, theory, math ...)
Jill Glessing, Professor, Liberal Studies,Ontario College of Art and Design
John Newton, Professional violin and viola maker
Joe REPKA, Professor of Mathematics University of Toronto
Christopher D. Green,  Professor, Dept of Psychology, York University
Info Flyer

Hat Forum: Sat. March 19, 11am-1pm, OISE Natural Resources and our future

HAT FORUM: Sat March 19, 11am - 1pm,
LOCATION: OISE, 252 Bloor Street West, Room  2-198
FACILITATOR: Michael Rosenberg
TOPIC: What will happen to Canada's economic and political systems as we become poorer or our natural resources decline?

UofT: Oxfam Hunger Banquet, with Mark Kingwell March 19, Hart House

The 2011 edition of the Hunger Banquet is Oxfam University of Toronto's 2nd annual talk and dramatic presentation on the food and inequality issues in our world! This unique fundraising event brings together the issues of food security, climate change, and women's rights, as well as presents distinguished speakers on these topics.

MARK KINGWELL is a philosopher and noted author. He specialises in theories of politics and culture. He is a contributing editor for Harper's Magazine, and the Globe and Mail book section. Kingwell has published fifteen books including "A Civil Tongue: Justice, Dialogue, and the Politics of Pluralism", which was awarded the Spitz Prize for Political Theory.
- HARRIET FRIEDMANN has published and lectured widely on the politics of food and agriculture, most recently focusing on social justice and sustainability of farming systems and regional agrifood planning. She is co-originator of the influential perspective of “international food regimes,” which has inspired interdisciplinary research into historical origins of food systems and potential directions for the future of food.
- PEGGY NASH was an MP from 2006 to 2008 and was elected President of the NDP in August 2009. Nash was a founding member of Equal Voice, an all-party organization which advocates for the election of more women in Canada, and was also the recipient of two environmental awards from the Sierra Club of Canada.
- BEATRIZ GONZALEZ has worked on international development and human rights since 1996 and joined Oxfam in 2003. She can speak about Oxfam and partners' work on women's rights and gender equality in Central America and Cuba. Gonzalez is currently the co-chair of the Americas Policy Group of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation.
Artist Performance:
- AMAI KUDA (singer / songwriter)

Tickets are $15 (with the proceeds going to Oxfam Canada)
- At the UTSU office (12 Hart House Circle)
- by e-mailing

BOOKS: Popular new works re-examine Biblical History

The new, New Testament -
[I don't know what is more interesting, these books, or the fact that this article is in the NYPOST. amazing - Mary]
Whether your knowledge of the New Testament is passing or deep, the overarching narrative is most likely familiar: Born to the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, son of God and man, is sent to save humanity through his crucifixion, death and resurrection.
Such is the foundation of all Christianity. Yet suddenly, a slew of true believers are arguing for a reconsideration of the Gospels — and the Old Testament — based on the predicate forever cited by atheists: The Bible doesn’t make any sense.
Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 Years,” by Philip Jenkins, is just out in paperback, as is Kristin Swenson’s “Bible Babel: Making Sense of the Most Talked About Book of All Time, and Diarmaid MacCulloch’s award-winning “Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years.”
In January, Pastor Jennifer Wright Knust published “Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions on Sex and Desire,” in which she attempts to explain why the Bible advocates both polygamy and celibacy, and both condones and condemns adultery and homosexuality. Last month, religion professor Timothy Beal published “The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book.” His counterintuitive thesis: The Bible is not a book of answers, but a book of questions. God wants it to be confusing, he says, on purpose.
“It’s not that the hundreds of people writing and editing the Bible were stupid and just ignored the contradictions,” Beal says. “If you think religion is about answers, it’s likely that when you face this material, you’ll reject it. So much of life is really about ambiguity — if you think it’s about the question, as I do, then it’s a richer place to explore.”
In many of these new books, the Bible has been re-framed in just this way, as a deliberately perplexing text meant to provoke self-examination. To many atheists — the fastest-growing minority in America and, according a recent Pew poll, the most Biblically literate segment of the population — this argument merely moves the goalposts, attempting to redefine an all-knowing, judgmental deity (“a celestial North Korea,” to quote Christopher Hitchens) into either a whimsical Socratic teacher or a schizophrenic.
“How do [believers] determine which passages are mistakes?” says Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanists Association. “And if they’re using a filter, does that filter look a lot like humanism?”
This recent spate of books, Speckhardt thinks, is mainly “an effort to hold on to a flock that’s leaving rather quickly.” He’s not wrong: The largest religious denomination in the United States is the Roman Catholic Church. The second largest group by religious identity? Former members of the Roman Catholic Church. “I think the more we learn about the history of the Bible,” Beal says, “the more we learn about how human-made it is... (read more above)

HAT Book Group: April 3, 11:30-12:30, OISE

HAT Book Discussion April 3, 11:00-12:30 OISE, 252 Bloor St W.

The Colony of Unrequited Dreams: A Novel  by Wayne Johnston  First half of book will be read for April. There are numerous copies in the Library. It is also available locally at Chapters(World's Biggest Bookstore for 22$ and less thru If you have difficulty obtaining a copy please contact Jodi at 416-925-3395 before March 16 or after March 25th.

"All I can say is is Newfoundland's voice, it is Canada and it is brilliant. I found Ms. Fielding to be the most memorable, realistic and engaging character I have encountered in the last year of reading. In some ways Dickension but with a true Canadian voice. Thrilling to find a female character who is quirky, demanding, complex and bloody funny. Nice change eh kids? Mr. Smallwood our beloved past Premiere of Newfoundland, is the everyman..that is if everyman is a myopic, driven political animal. Fortunately they are a rare, if necessary breed. Joey Smallwood was our sacrifice. I would recommend this book to anyone I know who loves reading. This is the book to cuddle up to while the wind rages and your life howls. One could expect no less from a life on the Rock. (Newfoundland for the outsiders)".

GTA event: Lecture: Against the Wall, the art of resistance in Palestine. Thu. March 31, UofT

Here is an event forwarded by Tanya, a member of the Steering Committee:
Against the Wall: The art of resistance in Palestine, with William Parry
Thursday, March 31, 2011, 07:30 PM
Sandford Fleming Building
10 King's College Road Blue Room #1105

TICKET INFO $5 General Admission. Seating is limited, so purchase your ticket early to avoid disappointment. Those purchasing tickets online will have reserved seating in the front of the auditorium. To make your purchase online, click here

About William Parry and this lecture:
"Israel's illegal separation wall has been transformed into the world’s largest protest banner. William Parry, author of – Against the Wall: the art of resistance in Palestine will give audiences a visual 'talking tour' of the stunning artwork and graffiti on the wall, and show how it mirrors the grim reality the wall has brought to Palestinian communities in the West Bank – but also how it reflects Palestinian resilience and determination to struggle for justice. The talks feature artwork by some of the West’s best known street artists, like Banksy, Blu, Swoon, Ron English and Faile – as well as graffiti by locals and the thousands of ordinary people who have used it to show their individual and unique protest and act of solidarity with Palestinians.

William Parry is a photojournalist based in London and has lived and worked in the Middle East for many years. He has been published in the Guardian and Independent and a number of other magazines and journals. He has also written for the Washington Review of Middle East Affairs, The Middle East, Times Higher Education Supplement, and several electronic news organizations.

EVENT: ROM LECTURE: Life on Earth: The Next 100,000 Years

ROM LECTURE: Life on Earth: The Next 100,000 Years
Royal Ontario Museum, Auditorium, Thursday, March 24, 7:00 - 8:00 pm, Public $15.00, Member $12.00
Tel.: 416.586.5797

Most debates over global warming looks only as far ahead as 2100 AD, but what happens after that? As Curt Stager, author of Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth, argues, our fossil fuel emissions will interfere with climates for much longer than most of us, scientists included, yet realize. Even in the best-case scenario, the world won't fully recover for tens of thousands of years, and possibly much longer. What will life in that shockingly deep future be like? Some will win and some will lose. On the bright side, we've already prevented the next nation-crushing ice age. But as the Earth finally starts to cool down again, "climate whiplash" will force people, animals, and plants to reverse their adaptive strategies. Losers may then become winners - but exactly how the future plays out is ultimately up to us as we search for a sane, sustainable path forward in this new geologic epoch, the "Age of Humans."

Curt Stager is an ecologist, paleoclimatologist and science writer. He teaches at Paul Smith’s College and holds a research associate post at the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute where he investigates the long-term history of climate in Africa, South American and the polar regions. Mr. Stager will be signing copies of his new book, Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth, after his talk.

HAT Forum, SAT March 12, 11am OISE. Democratic Government

Topic:  Is Democratic Government Overvalued by Western Countries in Meeting the Needs of Citizens in Developing Countries?
Location:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street W. Room 2-198
Facilitator:   Marilyn Miller

With the revolutionary uprising of the people against their repressive, authoritarian leaders in the Middle East over basic issues of food prices and jobs in contrast to the lavish lifestyles of the ruling class, people are not necessarily clamoring for the abstract concept of Democracy to deliver basic needs and opportunities unavailable to them.  They want responsible, not corrupt and exploitive leadership to ensure food and jobs to take care of their families, which democratic governments in the West have delivered long ago.

Despite its authoritarian leaders and human rights abuses, China is rapidly developing its economy, standard of living, and educating its huge population after instituting strict population control of one child per family a few decades ago.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, huge effort, energy and resources on the part of U.S., NATO, and European countries have been directed to setting up democratic structures of government such as free election of leaders, internal police security, an independent judiciary system which may or may not survive when Western military forces leave.  In Haiti, immediately after the devastating earthquake followed by a heavy hurricane, much focus and effort was directed to holding elections.

Is Democracy  the only government system that can provide adequate well being such as basic necessities, health, education, meaningful work and opportunity to its citizens?

Are Western attempts  to establish democratic systems in developing or crisis countries suffering high illiteracy, poverty, insufficient food  water or natural resources misguided as an early response?

Is overpopulation in developing countries and overconsumption in developed countries in light of climate change, natural and human caused disasters affecting world food and energy supplies reaching a point of unsustainability for civilization and the planet?


Event: "The Age of Enlightenment and Human Rights"

Amnesty International Toronto and the Windermere String Quartet present:
"The Age of Enlightenment and Human Rights" An afternoon of music and ideas to benefit Amnesty International Toronto
March 27, 2011 at 3:30 pm First Unitarian Congregation
175 St. Clair West, Toronto

Featuring Prof. Mark Kingwell,  philosopher and author of fifteen books including the national bestsellers Better Living (1998), The World We Want (2000), Concrete Reveries (2008), and Glenn Gould (2009), AndrĂ© Gombay, Descartes scholar and editor of Descartes Oeuvres Completes on CD-ROM,  Windermere String Quartet on period instruments, specializing in the music of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and their contemporaries.  Host:  Alexa Petrenko of Classical 96.3 FM

A unique opportunity to celebrate the Age of the Enlightenment and its legacy with music, talks, and readings by actors of inspiring historical texts.  Become immersed in the time of Voltaire and the Philosophes, Beaumarchais’ witty satire of the ruling classes in his daring play “The Marriage of Figaro”, the genius of Mozart and Beethoven flowering as freelance composers less dependent upon the court; and the great surge toward values of individual freedoms and human rights. Enjoy talks by philosophers / authors Mark Kingwell and AndrĂ© Gombay and music from the Golden Age of the String Quartet performed by the Windermere String Quartet on period instruments.

$50 (or $100 with $50 tax receipt) , $30 for students/seniors
For tickets,  more information

EVENT: Judy Rebick at Humber College, IWD March 8

Humber's International Women's Day Centenary Breakfast
Theme: Passing the Torch: Meetings with Humber's Remarkable Women
Tuesday, March 8th, 2011, International Women's Day
North Campus - Community Room, 7:30-9:30am
Hot Breakfast will be served at 7:30am. Pre-Registration & Confirmation required.

Keynote Speaker: Judy Rebick, Social Justice Activist, Writer, Broadcaster, Former President, National Action Committee on the Status of Women
Please RSVP:

GTA event: IWD Rally and March, OISE, March 12 11am


International Women’s Day 2011
"Our City, Our Services, Our Future! Women Take On The Fight!"
International Women’s Day (IWD) has been celebrated for more than 100 years. In Toronto, IWD has traditionally been a rally and march as well as a lot of other political and cultural events.
Rally - 11AM, OISE Auditorium, 252 Bloor St West March - 1PM
Fair - 1:30PM, Ryerson Student Centre, 55 Gould St. Toronto Organisations: IWD Committee: The Toronto IWD Committee consists of women's groups, immigrant women's centres, labour, student and other equality and equity and human rights organizations.

HAT FORUM Sat. March 5, 11am -1pm, OISE "Rewriting Mark Twain"?

TOPIC: Rewriting Mark Twain?
Time: 11:00am -1pm.
Location: OISE, 252 Bloor Street West, Room 2-198
Facilitator: Joan Burrell

There has been a lot of controversy about rewriting "Huck Finn". Is it right to rewrite Mark Twain's masterpiece to suit the sensibilities of our present society?

All are welcome to this open discussion.

Reminder: HAT Monthly Meeting March 12, 1:30-3pm, OISE

Saturday, March 12 1:30 – 3
OISE, 252 Bloor west, Room 5-160
Speaker: El-Farouk Khaki

El-Farouk Khaki is a founder and board member of Salaam, the Queer Muslim Community of Toronto. This organization is dedicated to Muslims who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual and/or transgender, as well as those questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity, and their friends. El-Farouk will speak about the organization, how it came to be, what its goals are; also what it is like to be a gay Muslim – is it any different from being gay (lesbian, bisexual, transgendered) in any other ethnic or religious community.
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.