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.

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 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.