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.
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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.
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HAT EVENTS | GTA EVENTS | GTA NEWS | HUMANIST NEWS | HAT NEWSLETTER | ETHICAL ACTIONS | UNIV of TORONTO EVENTS

HAT FORUM Sat. April 30, 11am-1pm, OISE "Universal Health Care"

HAT FORUM  Sat April 30, 11am- 1pm
LOCATION:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street West, room 11-204
FACILITATOR:  Cecilia Rayo
TOPIC:  Universal Health Care in Canada
·        Sustainable?
    • With health care costs soaring, the discussions around sustainability of Canada’s health care system are intensifying.  Your position?
·        Wait times – what should be done?
·        Many drugs & procedures are not allowed to save cost. Is this appropriate?
·        Ethics:
    • In Canada we will place a terminally ill person on life support at huge cost per day, while other people in the world cannot get even acetaminophen, never mind proper health care. “A bad idea until it happens to someone I love?” Are we putting a dollar value, ultimately, on human life and its quality?
·        Hybrid Systems – universal + a portion of private too. Pros & cons?
·        If we wish more/better health care, what other government programs are we willing to sacrifice?
    • Ontario health care spending is currently about 40% of total provincial expenditures, and growing.

HAT Forum, Sat. April 23, OISE, 11am - 1pm Election 2011

HAT FORUM Sat. April 23, 2011, 11am - 1pm.
Location:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street W,ROOM 11-204
Topic: Election Canada 2011 – Decision
Facilitator:  Robin Russell.

How do you decide which candidate and party to elect?
Do you “belong” to one party and always vote for them? Why? If not, what issues typically motivate your vote? Should we fear a coalition government? Why or why not?
In this election, what issues are most important to you? Here are some, in no particular order.  Add others if you wish:
  • Economy
    • Credit card rates
    • HST
    • taxation
    • accumulated national debt
  • Political honesty; integrity
    • Leaders
    • Party
  • Autocratic versus democratic leadership
  • Health Care
  • Crime
    • Long gun registry
    • Additional Penitentiaries
    • Internet surveillance and Warrant-less Wiretapping
  • Military spending
    • fighter jets
    • submarines
  • Immigration
  • Women, Gender issues, LGBTq issues, Equality issues
Any final thoughts on representative democracy, and how well it works.

Owen Sound votes to remove Lord’s Prayer from Council Meetings

Ontario Humanist Society: Owen Sound votes to remove Lord’s Prayer from Council Meetings
SunTimes: During the holiest week on the Christian calendar, council voted 5-4 to replace the Lord’s Prayer with a moment of silent reflection. Coun. Colleen Purdon, the mover of the motion to change council’s practice, said each council meeting should begin in a way that is “inclusive” to people of all religious faiths as well as those with no religious beliefs. “They’re all our citizens and they all deserve to feel welcomed,” she said. Before council voted on the moment of silence, Coun. Peter Lemon put forward a motion to issue fresh invitations to other religious groups to lead council in prayer and recite the Lord’s Prayer as the “fallback position.” It failed.
Councillors Jan Chamberlain, Bill Twaddle, David Adair, Purdon and Mayor Deb Haswell voted to replace the Lord’s Prayer with a moment of silent reflection. Councillors Jim McManaman, Arlene Wright, Ian Boddy and Lemon were opposed. Council’s vote occurred on the same week as Palm Sunday and Good Friday — referred to as Holy Week in Christianity. Purdon asked city staff Feb. 28 for a report on council’s practice of reciting the Lord’s Prayer before each meeting. She said it is not an “inclusive” way to start municipal government meetings and should be reconsidered.
The report, prepared by acting clerk Lois O’Neill, says council’s current format, which includes time to recite the Lord’s Prayer or a “traditional faith blessing,” is set out in Owen Sound’s procedural bylaw. Council must approve an amendment to change the format.
The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled in 1999 that the use of the prayer at council meetings in Penetanguishene violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom.

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NOTE: a very good LTE was sent to the Owen Sound SunTimes by HAT member and OHS member Terri Hope:
To the Editor,
Those who support an opening Christian prayer at municipal council meetings are missing an important point.
Simply put, religious prayers are out of place in a non-religious setting. This may have been acceptable 100 years ago, but is not so today, as our society becomes more and more diverse.
To suggest that those of us who are not Christian should “think about something else”, or worse, “leave the room” during the Lord’s Prayer, is highly insulting, demonstrating a baffling sense of entitlement. It is even insulting to those who treasure the prayer.
If I were attending a service in a Christian church, I would gladly comply with the standard procedures, or engage in silent reflection. I would understand that I was a guest. But we are talking about a municipal council meeting, designed to assure good government for all. As an Owen Sound resident who is attending a council meeting, I am not a guest.
It is fundamentally disrespectful to expect the general public to adopt and practice ones’ own set of religious beliefs. Terri Hope, Owen Sound.

NEWS: Tories defunding Planned Parenthood, MP says

Tories defunding Planned Parenthood, MP says - Canada Votes 2011 - CBC News
(forwarded by a HAT member fyi)
A Saskatchewan Conservative candidate says the federal government has decided to cut funding to the International Planned Parenthood Federation, a decision he says was influenced by anti-abortion supporters.
The decision on whether to fund the organization has not yet been announced. But Brad Trost, the incumbent candidate for Saskatoon-Humboldt, told the Saskatchewan ProLife Association's annual convention last Saturday that anti-abortion supporters who signed petitions played a big role.
In a recording of his speech, obtained by CBC News, Trost can be heard thanking those who had signed the petitions, saying his office was involved in spearheading the petition campaign along with other members of Parliament.
“Let me just tell you, I cannot tell you specifically how we used it, but those petitions were very, very useful and they were part of what we used to defund Planned Parenthood because it has been an absolute disgrace that that organization and several others like it have been receiving one penny of Canadian taxpayers' dollars,” Trost told the group to applause.
"And so there’s going to be a lot of vigilance and pressure and if you and your groups hear anything, please help us as members of Parliament because we’re going to be on the lookout as they try to get in there. I’ve got reports that they’re trying to get grants and again we will be pushing back from the other side."
Planned Parenthood provides worldwide counselling and services, which include family planning, contraceptives, HIV-related services and abortion-related services.
The organization has said it had not yet been informed whether the Canadian International Development Agency would approve its $18-million grant.... (more at above link)

Event: David Hume at 300, Conference, U of T, April 26

Jackman Humanities Institute - David Hume at 300
David Hume at 300
Time: Apr 26th, 9:00 am - 5:15 pm
Jackman Humanities Building Room 100 (170 St. George Street)
Free and open to the public: no registration is required.
An interdisciplinary conference in honour of the 300th anniversary of the birth of David Hume
  • Christina Lupton (English, University of Michigan) "Hume and Beattie on the Page"
  • James Harris (Philosophy, University of St. Andrews) "Of the Different Species of Philosphy in Hume's Intellectual Biography"
  • Ian Balfour (English, York University)
  • Andrew Sabl (Public Policy, University of California--Los Angeles) "Hume's Politics: Dynamic Coordination in the History of England

Election Resources and Candidate's Meetings

Election 2011, election resources and candidates meetings.
The Council of Canadians lists all upcoming Candidates meetings on their blog, as well as suggested questions for Candidates, how to organize an all-candidates meeting, and FAQs about voting.

HAT Monthly Meeting, May 14, 1:30-3:00pm OISE "Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East"

HAT Monthly Meeting, Saturday, May 14, 1:30 – 3pm
OISE, 252 Bloor west, Room TBD
TOPIC:  Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East

“Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East"  (CJPME) is a non-profit, secular organization bringing together men and women of all backgrounds who labour to see justice and peace take root again in the Middle East. Its mission is to empower both ordinary citizens and elected representatives to view all sides with fairness and to promote the equitable and sustainable development of the region.” 

CJPME offers an array of resources, including fact sheets, backgrounders, position papers and training documents. A representative from CJPME will join us to talk about the organization, what it does, some of the backlash it encounters, successes they have had, and how an individual who wishes to can help further the aims of the organization.

Reminder: All Party Debate tonight on "Parliament is Dysfunctional" @ St Pauls

All-Party Debate -- All welcome 
Wednesday April 20, 7:00 - 8:30 pm
St Paul’s Church,
227 Bloor Street E (east of Church Street)

sponsored by: Fair Vote Canada Toronto Chapter
and Canadians Advocating Political Participation

"Our Parliament is dysfunctional.  What will your party do about it"
Toxic politics, adversarial debate and negative advertising.
Four elections in less than 7 years
Three minority governments in a row and maybe a fourth Coalition—a legitimate option or coup d’etat?

Panelists: 
Martha Hall Findlay, MP, Liberal, Willowdale.
Ellen Michelson, Green Party Candidate, Toronto Centre.
William Molls, NDP Candidate, St. Paul’s.
Conservative Candidate: TBA
Moderator: Wayne Smith, Fair Vote Canada Executive Director

Living Without the Sacred

HAT Forum:  Sat. April 9, 11am - 1pm,
Location:  OISE, room 11-204
TOPIC: Living Without the Sacred
If life is about 'making things better' ... what does any concept of the 'sacred' do for living that is not done less harmfully by a life open to critical thinking .... in the light of reason and emotions?
(note: this was the topic of the televised debate on April 5, at OISE, as well. Feel free to add your opinion to the ongoing discussion).

Toronto: All Party Debate, from FairVote Canada, April 20, 7pm

Upcoming all-party debate:"Our Parliament is dysfunctional"

"Toxic politics, adversarial debate and negative advertising. Four elections in less than 7 years. Three minority governments in a row and maybe a fourth.  Coalition—legitimate option or coup d’etat? What will your party do about it"
Wednesday April 20, 7:00 - 8:30 pm
St Paul’s Church, 227 Bloor Street (east of Church Street)
http://www.stpaulsbloor.org/contact/map

Sponsored by:Fair Vote Canada Toronto Chapter
http://fairvotetoronto.ca
Canadians Advocating Political Participation
http://canadaparticipates.ca/
For further information contact: Mark Greenan, markgreenan@gmail.com

REMINDER: UTSSA Debate tonite @ OISE! 7pm. Arrive early!

UTSSA: Debate: Living Without the Sacred: Should John Lennon's "Imagine" Become Our Reality?

On Tuesday April 5th TVO’s BIG IDEAS, in conjunction with Centre For Inquiry Ontario (CFI) will be co-sponsoring a debate hosted by University of Toronto Secular Alliance, between Canadian philosopher Ronald de Sousa and clinical psychologist Jordan B. Peterson.
The question is whether it is possible and/or desirable to imagine a culture which is not bas...ed on any conceptions of the sacred. Dr. de Sousa will speak in support of relegating all notions of the sacred to the ash heap of history as irrational and potentially harmful, and in favour of a conception of life open to critical thinking in the light of reason. On the other hand, Dr. Peterson will defend the sacred as a necessary expression of human struggle with inscrutable complexity and suffering. The debate will be moderated by UTSA's Matthew Gayford.

The event is being held at O.I.S.E. auditorium, 252 Bloor Street West. Admission is $5 general, cash at the door only, FREE for students and CFI members. Debate starts at 7 p.m. Seating begins at 6 p.m. Come early; seating will be on a first-come basis and is expected to be sold out

Debate: Living Without the Sacred: Should John Lennon's "Imagine" Become Our Reality? April 5, OISE

Living Without the Sacred: Should John Lennon's "Imagine" Become Our Reality?

On Tuesday April 5th TVO’s BIG IDEAS, in conjunction with Centre For Inquiry Ontario (CFI) will be co-sponsoring a debate hosted by University of Toronto Secular Alliance, between Canadian philosopher Ronald de Sousa and clinical psychologist Jordan B. Peterson.

The question is whether it is possible and/or desirable to imagine a culture which is not bas...ed on any conceptions of the sacred. Dr. de Sousa will speak in support of relegating all notions of the sacred to the ash heap of history as irrational and potentially harmful, and in favour of a conception of life open to critical thinking in the light of reason. On the other hand, Dr. Peterson will defend the sacred as a necessary expression of human struggle with inscrutable complexity and suffering. The debate will be moderated by UTSA's Matthew Gayford.

The event is being held at O.I.S.E. auditorium, 252 Bloor Street West. Admission is $5 general, cash at the door only, FREE for students and CFI members. Debate starts at 7 p.m. Seating begins at 6 p.m. Come early; seating will be on a first-come basis and is expected to be sold out.

CCLA support GAY-STRAIGHT ALLIANCES

Canadian Civil Liberties Association statement (in part)
This issue has arisen in the Halton and the Peel Catholic District School Boards, and apparently is a concern for other students across Canada where school officials have not permitted the students to form gay-positive clubs.  In Halton, a policy which explicitly banned GSAs was rescinded following public pressure and criticism.  CCLA is providing information to students and helping them through its website and social networking sites.
While in most schools, there is no written ban against students forming GSAs or other gay positive clubs, there may exist an unwritten ban.  Sometimes this comes in the form of requiring students to join, instead, an all-purpose “equality” group.
CCLA has taken the position that this is inadequate – gay-positive groups and Gay Straight Alliances serve functions that general “equality” groups cannot and students are entitled to choose the name of their clubs.  In GSAs, LGBT youth can come together in a safe space with others who have been bullied because of people’s assumptions about their sexuality, and with heterosexual supporters, and they can discuss issues, challenges and questions particular to them.  -- see the rest at the link.
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.