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 January 12, OISE "Ethics of Giving"

DATE:  Sat January 12, 2013,  11am - 1pm, 
LOCATION:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street W, Room 2-198
TOPIC:   The Ethics of Giving: Sub-topics will include Environmentalism vs. Christmas; Philanthropy and Charity; Welfare; International Aid; Religious Organizations as Charities, etc.
Facilitator: Bill Kennedy
Welcome to the New Year, and you are invited to join the discussion... 

Here is a link for interest:
You may also wish to see

HAT FORUM, Sat Dec. 15, 11am - 1pm, OISE "Listening well"

DATE:  Sat. Dec 15,  11am - 1pm,
LOCATION:   OISE, 252 Bloor Street W, Room 4-418
FACILITATOR:   Bill Kennedy

How are we doing?  Today’s Forum is a continuation of the reflective review we began last Saturday 8 December.
I n the second of our printed HAT Forum Guidelines we read: “…to enrich our understanding… we cultivate our capacity to listen well.” Today (15 Dec) we’ll attempt to unpack that little word ‘well’.


SAT  Dec 8, 2012,  1:30-3pm
LOCATION:  OISE 252 Bloor Street West,  Room 4-422

Speaker: John Thompson, “Canadian Security and the New Middle East”

John Thompson, author, Other People's Wars: Overseas Terrorism in Canada, is Editor/Publisher of The Mackenzie Institute, a think tank that focuses on terrorism, political extremism, warfare, and organized crime. He is "concerned with the social and political stability of Canada." John has spent 22 years with the Mackenzie Institute, 5 with the Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies and 13 years with the Canadian Forces (in the ranks as a gunner and commissioned with the Queen's York Rangers). John often appears as a television contributor on terrorism and military issues. He is an extremely skilled communicator -- 7,500 media interviews, 500 plus columns, studies, papers, and contributions to books.

Free event, open to the public, all are welcome.

HAT FORUM DEC 8, 11am - 1pm OISE - Improving the Forum

DATE:  Saturday, Dec 8, 11am -1 pm
LOCATION:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street West, Room 4-118
FACILTATOR:  Peter Davis

For discussion, please read:
(revised October 2008) which contains sensible ideas for conducting a constructive discussion group.
Peter says:  "I have attended meetings for about a year and wonder why some occasional participants fail to return. That a person does not continue in the group in itself is not evidence of a problem; but the fact that during the past year there really have been no new regular participants is worth discussing."

HAT Forum Dec 1, 11am, OISE: "Quiet and Introspection"

HAT SATURDAY FORUM DATE: Sat. Dec 1, 11am - 1pm, LOCATION: OISE, 252 Bloor Street West Room 4-418 TOPIC: "Quiet and Introspection in a Noisy World" FACILTATIOR: Deb Jenkins. All are welcome. The topic was sparked by the TED Talk: The Power of Introverts

Avaaz - Hours to stop Uganda's horrific anti-gay law

 [this action was forwarded by HAT members]
Avaaz - Hours to stop Uganda's horrific anti-gay la
We've helped stop this bill before, and we can do it again. After a massive global outcry last year, Ugandan President Museveni blocked the bill's progress. But political unrest is mounting in Uganda, and religious extremists in Parliament are hoping confusion and violence in the streets will distract the international community from a second push to pass this hate-filled law. We can show them that the world is still watching.

Being gay in Uganda is already dangerous and terrifying. LGBT Ugandans are regularly harassed and beaten, and just last year gay rights activist David Kato (pictured above) was brutally murdered in his own home. Now they are threatened by this draconian law which could impose life imprisonment for people convicted of same-sex relations, and the death penalty for “serial offenders”. Even NGOs working to prevent the spread of HIV can be imprisoned for “promoting homosexuality” under this hate-filled law.

Right now, Uganda is in political turmoil -- missing millions of aid money has embroiled the Parliament in scandal. This upheaval has provided religious extremists in Parliament the perfect chance to slip in the shelved anti-gay bill, calling it a "Christmas gift" to Ugandans.

President Museveni backed away from this bill before, after international pressure threatened Uganda's support. Let's build a million strong petition to stop the gay death penalty bill again, and save lives. We only have hours -- sign below, then tell friends and family:
Last time, our international petition condemning the gay death penalty law was delivered to Parliament – spurring a global news story and enough pressure to block the bill for months. When a tabloid newspaper published 100 names, pictures and addresses, of suspected gays and those identified were threatened, Avaaz supported a legal case against the paper and we won! Together we have stood up, time and time again, for Uganda’s gay community -- now they need us more than ever.

Contribute to a Rationalist Orphanage in India - software, games, and donations requested

Swami Manavatavadi gave a presentation to the HAT Monthly Meeting in November, about his work with children in India.  Swami is a rationalist who runs a religion-free school for disadvantaged children.  He has visited Toronto and Ottawa before, and met many members of HAT. You can read about him on the IHEU website, below.  To aid in his work, here is an appeal for software and other donations for his school.  As Swami's resources are very limited, he is also looking for a suitcase to carry the software home.  Those who wish to donate may find information below.
[By this notice, HAT is not endorsing your donation, but simply providing  information, and you are encouraged to contact Swami Manatavadi at the phone/email below, for more information.  He can also refer you to other Humanist members in Canada who know him.]

Humanist orphanage in India seeks donations of laptop computers, USB (stick) drives, digital cameras, digital games for children and/or cash donations
Swami Manavatavadi, the founder of Kids' Kingdom Un-Orphanage in Kurukshetra, India, is presently visiting the Greater Toronto area. It would be a great idea to donate your no longer needed laptop computers, USB (stick) drives, digital cameras and digital games for children to him which he can take home with him. The children at the orphanage would benefit greatly from becoming computer literate which would further their opportunities later in life. Swamiji is leaving on December 12, so time limited.  To get some information about the work of Swamiji go to: and

You can drop off any no longer needed digital games for children, USB (stick) drives, laptop computer and/or digital camera (with a digital memory card and charger for the battery) in good working order together with all the electrical cords, battery chargers, etc. that go with them and a carrying bag, if you have one for it, at the address where Swamiji is staying in Toronto. E-mail: or Call land tel. #: 416-798-2082  or  cell: 416-897-8372 to arrange day and time of drop off.
A light but strong suitcase is also needed in which to take the donated items to India.
Very important: Please make sure that you permanently delete all PERSONAL files and information from the camera digital memory card, USB (stick) drive and laptop HD. If you have Windows Word make sure to ALSO empty the waste bin afterwards! Please leave software programs intact.

For information on how to donate the computers, how to label your donation, and how to donate funds via Western Union, please see this link:

CONTRIBUTIONS TO Shri Sadhvi Asha Manav
Swami Manavatavadi also is extending a very warm invitation "to come to us as volunteers to work with us. It is a great pleasure for the children and enhances their morale whenever there is a guest visiting them."

HAT BOOK GROUP, Sat Dec 1, 2:30-4pm

DATE:  Saturday December 1st  from 2:30-4:00  at OISE room 10-200
The Better Mother by Lee, Jen Sookfong.
Year/Format: 2011, Book, 350 p. 0 holds / 40 copies at the Public Library.
Summary: From a master of family dynamics comes this vivid tale of two misfits who find each other while stumbling toward their own true identities. In 1958, eight-year-old Danny Lim has been sent to buy cigarettes for his father, when he realizes that he has lost the money. Frantic, he rushes through Vancouver's Chinatown and behind a nightclub, where he sees Miss Val, a long-time burlesque dancer. Danny is enraptured with her sequined garters and silk robe, and Val, touched by his fascination, gives him a pack of cigarettes and her silk belt. Years later, Danny spends his days working as a wedding photographer and his nights cruising Stanley Park, far away from the home where his parents and sister live. He realizes that the key to understanding himself and his family lies in his connection to Miss Val, and he is determined to find her. Before she became the Siamese Kitten, a major player on the North American circuit, Miss Val was Valerie Nealy, a feisty girl growing up in a rundown house beside the Fraser River. But to find the stardom she thought she wanted, she had to make a series of seemingly irrevocable decisions. Set mostly during an unseasonably hot summer in Vancouver in 1982 when HIV/AIDS was spreading rapidly, The Better Mother brims with undeniable tragedy, but resounds with the power of friendship, change and truth. It will cement Jen Sookfong Lee's reputation as one of this country's finest young novelists

HAT FORUM, Sat Nov 24, 11am - 1pm OISE

Hat Forum, Saturday, 24 November 2012   11am - 1pom
Location:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street W,   Room 2-198
Facilitator: Arif Uddin
Topic: Culture & Health : What's the Connection

Can "culture" explain the high and low rates of diabetes among diverse countries? For our purpose we will define culture as everything that is not due to human biology.

Since our genes haven't changed in the last few decades, then our culture has to be the responsible for shaping the size and direction of health issues such as diabetes (type 2), a disease of affluence.

Many of us in North America believe America has the highest rate of diabetes among the  well-off countries that are affluent enough to eat all they want without using virtually any physical effort. But the highest rates of diabetes are in the five countries that are in the Arabian Peninsula. (International Diabetes Foundation, Diabetes Atlas)

Are there aspects of culture that correlate with the health symptoms of societies? In other words, if a culture fosters basic human needs/desires such as curiosity and sports participation, will it also lead to a healthier society such as one with lower diabetes rates?

Write for Rights with Amnesty International on Human Rights Day, Dec. 10th

Write for Rights with Amnesty International on Human Rights Day, Dec. 10th
Prepare yourself to save a life on December 10th 

Narges Mohammadi
is detained in Iran for defending women's rights. See her letter-writing action.

It's time to get ready to Write for Rights!
We've shown that together we can save lives, and you can once again be a part of our massive, life-saving effort on December 10, as Amnesty International mobilizes its full world-wide membership to take action.

Be a part of Write for Rights 2012 by SIGNING UP NOW.

You can choose to write one or several letters, sign an online petition, or organize a Write for Rights event with your friends, family or colleagues - one of hundreds of events we anticipate across Canada, and one of thousands taking place around the world on International Human Rights Day.

Last year Amnesty International supporters in 80 countries wrote over 1 million letters on International Human Rights Day!  

We know that the influence of letters or a huge petition tips the balance and persuades a government leader to do the right thing. We know that our efforts get results.

Will it be YOUR letter that tips the balance and saves a life? 

Each letter-writing case featured this year also allows you to write a letter of solidarity and bring hope to people who can feel hopeless.

Sign-up to write on your own | Sign-up to organize a letter-writing event with friends, at your school, at your office

If you are unable to join us, please consider buying

HAT MONTHLY MEETING: Sat Dec 8, 1:30pm OISE "Canadian Security and the New Middle East"

SAT  Dec 8, 2012,  1:30-3pm
LOCATION:  OISE 252 Bloor Street West,  Room 4-422

Speaker: John Thompson, “Canadian Security and the New Middle East”

John Thompson, author, Other People's Wars: Overseas Terrorism in Canada, is Editor/Publisher of The Mackenzie Institute, a think tank that focuses on terrorism, political extremism, warfare, and organized crime. He is "concerned with the social and political stability of Canada." John has spent 22 years with the Mackenzie Institute, 5 with the Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies and 13 years with the Canadian Forces (in the ranks as a gunner and commissioned with the Queen's York Rangers). John often appears as a television contributor on terrorism and military issues. He is an extremely skilled communicator -- 7,500 media interviews, 500 plus columns, studies, papers, and contributions to books.

HAT FORUM Sat Nov 17, OISE 11am- 1pm

HAT Forum, Saturday, November 17, 11am - 1pm
LOCATION:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street West, ROOM 2-198
TOPIC: What Money Can't, or Shouldn't, Buy 
Facilitator: Moses Klein

Are there things that should not be allowed to be bought and sold? Why or why not? What spheres of life do we want to keep separate from the economic realm? Does a notion of civic duty or civic virtue suffer if its expression becomes a marketable commodity?

Some examples for consideration: sex; citizenship; childrens' study habits; exemption from jury duty; prepared wedding toasts; voting; authorization to store waste. (This list is not exhaustive.)

This Forum was inspired by a program on The Agenda with Steve Peikin, featuring Michael Sandel, author of The Moral Limits of Markets. The program aired on October 24th and is available online at

Evolution Made Clear for Kids in "Pepper’s Special Wings"

Evolution Made Clear for Kids in "Pepper’s Special Wings"
 Mary Anne Farah is an Oakville Humanist and member of HPHC
In order to give parents a fun and effective tool when teaching young children evolution and the science behind it, author Mary Anne Farah has written Pepper’s Special Wings, a children’s ebook that uses the Peppered Moth species, a recent example of natural selection, as its inspiration.
Mary Anne Farah
“Children have the right to know the truth about how life evolves and species change,” says Farah. “The well-documented story of how the Peppered Moth species eventually changed due to pollution darkening the plants where they congregated was perfect for a children’s book. The new survival advantage for moths with darker wings is an easy example to explain to children with no need to use words that may not have yet been learned, such as species, population, predation and camouflage.”
The story of Pepper the moth covers more than just evolution, however. While Pepper’s Special Wings relates to small children about how Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory of natural selection works, children will also identify with Pepper’s struggles with the recurring childhood themes of self-esteem, self-image, bullying and being teased.
“Children will see that sometimes being different is what makes them amazing!” Farah said.
The book is a hit with the kids who have read it. “I like the story. It shows how the moth that was teased for being different made something big and became not different,” said Rami M., 7, from Pennsylvania. "I love the pictures and colours,” said Jasmine L, 7, from Ontario. “I like how Pepper was lucky and that she had babies.”
Pepper's Special Wings Page 22
The book also contains questions and points of discussion parents can use to talk about the topics in the book with their children.
“Mary Anne did a lovely job of explaining accurately how a species can adapt the way it looks as a result of changes in the environment, as well as informing readers about camouflage, predation and natural selection,” Parent Education Manager Nikki Taylor said of the book. “This was done sensitively and in a way that would not feel threatening for most children. I found this book to be very informative and age-appropriate.”
Pepper’s Special Wings is being launched in conjunction with a new website from the American Humanist Association, The press release with details can be found here.
The ebook is available at and other major online retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The ISBN number for Pepper’s Special Wings is 978-0-931779-28-2.
Humanist Press is the publishing house of the American Humanist Association, providing material for the humanist/freethought/atheist market since 1995. The American Humanist Association ( advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists and atheists in the United States. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, DC, its work is extended through more than 150 local chapters and affiliates across America.

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.

Is it True? Uncovering the Heart of Each of the World’s Religions: Nov 14, ATHEISM

OHS: Is it True? Uncovering the Heart of Each of the World’s Religions
UTSSA is sponsoring the info session on Atheism this week. If you are in Toronto, please go and support them.

A Lecture and Discussion Series.

Oct. 24: Islam (Amjad Tarsin, Muslim Chaplain, U of T) *past*
Oct. 31: Christianity (Kyle Hackmann, Grace Toronto Church)
Nov. 7: Judaism (Yishaya Rose, Chaplain, Chabad House, U of T)
Nov. 14: Atheism (Professor Larry Moran, U of T, Secular Alliance)

From 5:30pm-7pm with a light dinner in Room 52 University College

Sponsors: Muslim Students Association, Secular Alliance, Multi-Faith Centre, Power to Change

HAT MONTHY MEETING! Sat Nov 10, 1:30-3:00 PM

DATE: Saturday, November 10, 2012
LOCATION:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street West

TIME:  1:30 – 3:00 pm, Room 5-230
Speaker: Swami Manavatavadi

Swami Manavatavadi is an international Rationalist who will give an illustrated presentation on his work in India teaching children about rationalism.

Swami Manavatavadi visited Toronto in the spring of 1998 and gave a fascinating look at a Humanist movement in an Indian cultural context. He is looking forward to renewing acquaintances and meeting more recent members of HAT.

Swami Manavatavadi is leader of the International School of Humanitarian Thoughts and Practice in Kurukshetra, India. As a youth, after a long period of travel and searching, he arrived at a confirmed enlightenment that a supernatural being is a mere human concept,  either to discipline folks by induction of fear or a tactful weapon created by cunning people to fool the masses.

HAT FORUM, Sat Nov 10, 11am OISE: Electoral Change

DATE: SAT NOV 10, 11am - 1pm
LOCATION: OISE, 252 Bloor Street W
TOPIC: Why Electoral Change

The winner often needs only 40% of the votes cast. Since even on a good day only 50% of eligible voters actually vote, most eligible voters did not vote for the winner.

Also, if a party wins votes in only one group of ridings, it get seats, while another party may get the same number of seats scattered over the country but get no seats.

Several alternatives exist:
First, seats selected by proportion of total number of cross country votes.
Second, uniting two ridings into one with each of the two top vote getters winning a seat.
Third, uniting two ridings into one in such a way that one female and one male candidate gets a seat.


Hello All
We are very pleased to say that we WILL be holding our Monthly Meeting on November 10, 1pm. 
Although we had to cancel, due to the unavailabity of our scheduled speaker,  we are going to be able to host an International Rationalist,  Swami Manatavadi, who will give an illustrated presentation on his work in India teaching children about Rationalism. 

More details soon!

HAT FORUM email list

Moses says:

The HAT Forum now has an email list for any Forum-related discussions. To join, send an email to

HAT FORUM Sat Nov 3, 11am OISE "Bullies"

DATE:  Sat Nov 3, 2012
TIME:  11am - 1pm
LOCATION:  OISE, 252 Bloor St West, room 2-198
TOPIC: What lies behind the bully’s rage?

1.   What is this thing: a “bully’s rage”?
    2.  What forms does a bully’s behavior take?
    3.  What satisfaction may a bully achieve?
4.  From your own encounter with bully behavior (as a bully yourself, as a               witness, either approving and supporting or disapproving, or as the target of a bully), what lies behind a bully’s rage?

CANCELLED!!! HAT Monthly Meeting: Nov 10, OISE, Africans in partnership against AIDS

(due to the unavailability of our Speaker, we regret that the HAT MONTHLY MEETING for NOV 10 is Cancelled)

DATE: Saturday, November 10, 1:30 – 3:00
LOCATION:  OISE, 252 Bloor St. west, Room 5-230
SPEAKER: Dean Hyatt, Africans in Partnership against Aids

In 2000 Dean Hyatt, a white, 5th generation Canadian, was infected with AIDS and received a great deal of emotional and practical support from Africans in Partnership against AIDS (APAA). Consequently, he works tirelessly to raise awareness of the important work that APAA does in the Greater Toronto community. APAA was established in 1993 and is a community-based AIDS service organization.

All welcome, free admission - hope to see you there.  

HAT FORUM, Saturday 27 October, OISE 11am-1pm

HAT Forum
DATE: Saturday 27 October 2012, 11am - 1pm  Room  2-198
Topic: The Value of Memory
Facilitator: Moses Klein

This discussion is a follow-up to Ulli Diemer's Monthly HAT talk on archiving for Connexions. Why is it valuable to preserve the past? Is it worth keeping artifacts from the past, or are records of what has happened enough? And why?

Ontario Humanist Society « Be part of a study on non-religious identity

Ontario Humanist Society « Be part of a study on non-religious identity
Matt Murdoch, a Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Psychology from Carleton University, is in the planning stages of an interview-based study for a class at Carleton University.  He'd like to talk with nonreligious people who were formerly religious. In particular, he'd like to focus on their experiences with transitioning from religious to nonreligious identities and any support (or lack thereof) before, during, and after the process.

Matt is hoping to begin with the interviews in November.  If you would like to be part of this study, please contact Matt directly at:

Hat Forum, Sat. Oct 20, Political Candidates - Attributes

DATE:  Sat Oct. 20, 11am - 1pm.
LOCATION:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street West, Room 2 -198
TOPIC: What attributes do you think  a candidate should have to be a leader of a nation?
FACILITATOR:  Cecilia Rayo
  • What criteria should be used to evaluate a political representative during an election?
  • How do you get informed about your representatives?
  • When you follow a political party with which you think you agree, do you check that all the policies they propose to improve the different areas of government are well founded and all the possible negative consequences have been well studied?
  • What do you think are the causes of the trivialization of politics?
  • If you agree that there is a trivialization of politics, how would you fight it?

HAT FORUM, Sat Oct 13, 11:00-1pm OISE

[this topic has been rescheduled from Sept to Oct 13 - note unusual room change]

DATE:  Oct 13, 11:00-1pm.  
LOCATION:  OISE, 242 Bloor Street West, 2-198, 10-200

How resources should be apportioned in society lead to some very basic questions: namely, what are the core ideals of society? From a Canadian or “western” perspective, many would claim that our ideals are aimed at maximizing individual freedom coupled with group responsibility. By using this formula for guidance, the topic of “Distributive Justice” can be addressed under the general category of “group responsibility”.

Here are some “distributive” ideas for discussion:

STRICT EGALITARIANISM:  Because people are inherently “equal” they must be entitled to an equal share of all goods and services.  This view holds that differences in wealth between people promote envy and discord, ultimately undermining the stability of society. Would this approach have an impact on incentives for productive people resulting in the entire society being significantly poorer? What if an equal share was not enough or too much?

INDIVIDUAL NEEDS: “To each according to his need, from each according to his ability”. What mechanisms would society require in order to determine how much a person needs and what their productive output should be? Can this be accomplished in a large, complex society?

LIBERTARIANISM: Individuals are entitled to retain everything they legally acquire. Helping those in need would be a voluntary act. Would the lack of a proscribed “safety net” result in people becoming alienated from mainstream society, developing into a “pariah” class and aside from having a wretched existence themselves, threaten the stability of society?

BASIC ENTITLEMENTS: To be “moral” a reasonably affluent society should be prepared to ensure that poor people, the disadvantaged or those who suffer bad luck should be helped by receiving sufficient food, shelter, medical care and clothing to function modestly. Should basic entitlements be absolute or relative?

RESPONSIBILITY OF THE RECIPIENT: Assuming that the majority in society agree that seriously disadvantaged people should be helped, is it reasonable to expect that those who are physically and mentally capable, be prepared to work, to the best of their ability, in exchange for such help?

PROGRESSIVE VERSUS FLAT TAXES: If there were a flat tax of 25%, a person earning $ 200,000 per year would pay $ 50,000 in taxes.  Progressive taxes could force the same person to pay $ 100,000 (50%) or   $ 120,000 (60%) etc.  The government, by “redistributing” this taxpayer’s “surplus” revenue, is then challenged to use the money in a productive, efficient and “just” way for the benefit of society.  Would this “redistribution” affect the taxpayer’s incentive to be productive in the future?  If the taxpayer earned the money honestly,  by working hard, being productive and creative, is it possible that leaving a greater share with him/her would benefit society more than having the government absorb it?

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

HAT FORUM: Sat Oct 6, 11 am - 1pm "Drones"

HAT FORUM:  Date, Sat. Oct. 6, 11am - 1pm
LOCATION:  OISE, 242 Bloor Street West, 2-199
Topic: Living Under Drones

The US is flying drones over Pakistan to murder "terrorists".
What do you think of this strategy?

 From Chris Floyd in blog "Empire Burlesque". The report he refers to is

The "best available information", they say, is that between 2,562 and 3,325 people have been killed in Pakistan between June 2004 and mid-September this year – of whom between 474 and 881 were civilians, including 176 children. The figures have been assembled by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which estimated that a further 1,300 individuals were injured in drone strikes over that period. ...

"US drones hover 24 hours a day over communities in north-west Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning," the American law schools report says. "Their presence terrorises men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities.
Moderator: Isabel Foot

Simon Parcher, HAC President, to appear on The Agenda Oct 4

Simon Parcher to appear on The Agenda Oct 4
A reminder:
Simon Parcher,  President of HAC (Humanist Association of Canada) will be appearing on TV Ontario’s “The Agenda – with Steve Paikin" on Thursday, October 4, 8:00 pm.
It will be a live panel discussion examining how philanthropy is changing, the nature of religious vs. secular giving and philosophical questions about what it means to be a charitable person in the 21st century.

Participants are:
Sara Einstein (New York), Author, “Compassion, Inc: How corporate America blurs the line between what we buy, who we are and those we help”,
Shabir Ally, President, The Islamic Information and Dawah Centre,
Dave Toycen, President & CEO, World Vision Canada,
Simon Parcher, President, Humanist Canada.

If you have any thoughts or opinions on the subject please post them to the HAC list, or send to Simon.

HAT Forum Sat Sept 29, OISE "Freedom of Expression"

DATE:  Sat Sept 29, 11am -1 pm
Location:  OISE, 242 Bloor Street West
TOPIC:  Freedom of expression
FACILTATOR:  Jodi Perrin

The essence of freedom of expression, of course, is not the right to insult the beliefs of others, but rather the freedom to report or convey facts, opinions, philosophies, and worldviews in an effective manner, using both objective and subjective means. Freedom of expression empowers citizens through knowledge, opinion, and the possibility to gain their own voice. Within democracies, free expression allows citizens to challenge political leaders, journalists to uncover information for the public, and the public to ensure the accountability of their government. Without the principles of a free media and free speech, there could be no self-government.
         What are some reasons freedom of speech and expression are valued so highly in our culture?
         What are some of the limitations that we have placed on the right of free speech currently and in the past?
         How can we make distinctions between virulent hate speech and  bullying or insulting speech and what consequences might be applied?
         How could we move forward and perhaps look at ways to discourage hateful and negative activity that offends many world citizens?         

Heather Mallick accepts Humanist Of The Year Award, 2012

 Tanya Long, Programme Directory, presented the Humanist of the Year award for 2012 to Toronto Star journalist, and author, Heather Mallick, at OISE on Sept 15.
Heather was most gracious and held a lively conversation with members and guests, about her experiences as a journalist.  We discussed Humanist values, secularism, separation of government and religion in public life, and also the intersection of politics and religion, locally, federally, and internationally.   We all thank Heather for her generosity and humour - and also for her voice in the public forum - upholding reason, science, ethical behaviour and human compassion.  - Mary

Anti-Muslim video and violence show the value of atheism - Mallick

Anti-Muslim video and violence show the value of atheism -
[Please buy a paper,  or go online and read the whole thing  :-]
By Heather Mallick, Toronto Star

"....The world is not a kindly place unless we humans choose to make it so. In this case we did. In the case of that absurd anti-Muslim YouTube video assembled by a fraudster from a religion I hadn’t even heard of until now, we did not...
I talked to the Humanist Association of Toronto last week, a group of intelligent people who were startlingly . . . relaxed. It’s not a quality you see often. We discussed the world over cookies and juice.
They were entirely at ease, which is unusual for any group of humans nowadays. People are poised to take — and give — offence. They are stiff with aggression. They drop things on other people’s heads for religious reasons.
But humanists are a mighty force, albeit so polite, well-spoken and attuned to the hurt feelings of others that they are an unused one. They don’t organize, campaign, harangue or even mildly irritate people. They don’t send out multiple choices forms demanding that their children be taken out of class lest something possibly anti-religious be implied.

Global TV Taping tonight: CFI: Is religion bad for the environment?

[Please note:  this message is from the Centre for Inquiry, which is a separate organization, and not part of HAT.  However, a HAT Steering Committee member has asked us to inform our members of this event in case you are interested in attending, and presenting a Humanist view in the audience]
GLOBAL TV EVENT:  IS RELIGION BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT?This monday, September 24, we ask: 'IS RELIGION BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT?' Bestselling author Andrew Nikiforuk has made a strong case that many religious people in Canada have little regard for the planet. U of Toronto's star anthropologist Stephen Scharper, author of 'Religion and Ecology' weighs in along with the Centre for Inquiry's Justin Trottier.

Join the studio audience this monday night to add your voice. Filmed at CBC Broadcast Centre in downtown Toronto and air on Global TV. Check-in at 5:30 PM, taping at 6.
Get your tickets now:
Context with Lorna Dueck investigates where current affairs and spirituality converge.
1. Is religion to blame (at least in part) for the environmental crisis? (see for example Dr. Lynn White's thesis in "The Historical Roots of the Ecological Crisis"
2. How has Christianity been complicit in environmental degradation instead of an antidote to it? Why is this so?
3.  New broad-ranging religious activism across religious lines in the name of "creation care" suggests that religion and science may not be as incompatible as is often assumed.  Are we blaming the (religious) messenger when the message may be more nuanced than often assumed?
4. Has religion on balance been more of a curse than a blessing to the planet?
5. What is the humanist/skeptic's positive case for a green ethic?

LTE re Prayer at Council Meetings, Owen Sound/Grey County

Ontario Humanist Society « LTE re Prayer at Council Meetings, Owen Sound/Grey County
From HAT member, OHS officiant Terri in Owen Sound:
Recently our MP wrote a letter to the editor talking about how and why prayer has a place at meetings of government (Christianity is OUR tradition), and how those who oppose it are the ‘whining minority’.
This is the letter I wrote in response. I’ve had great feedback and thought you and others might want to see it.
Sept 18, 2012 (published Owen Sound Sun Times)
To the Editor, I write this in response to the recent letter from MP Larry Miller.

Mr. Miller,
In your Letter to the Editor, you explained that opening meetings with prayer is a tradition in Grey County, and how the ‘whining minority’ totally ignore the rights of the majority.
You may be aware that years ago, our leaders recognized that some majorities were capable of impinging on the rights of minorities, and thereby created laws that protected everyone. They are called ‘human rights’.
Majorities once felt that slavery was a time-honoured tradition, and vigorously defended their right to continue the practice. The same is true for denying women the vote. Finally courts had to protect the ‘whining minorities’ against those majorities. Times were thankfully changing.
Mr Miller:  How is it that you don’t recognize the Lord’s Prayer as specific to the decisions YOU have made about your life? You believe in a deity, and chose to follow the Christian faith. Not everyone has made these choices, and vocal or quiet, those who haven’t, feel excluded.
You say that those of us who object to prayer in government meetings are merely being “politically correct”, that we’re complaining that  “our rights are being trampled, kicked around.” Did it ever occur to you that many people have been quietly looking on from the sidelines for years, and are only now revealing their displeasure at your sense of entitlement?
For the first time in many, many years, people who have not chosen the Christian faith  are openly objecting to religious invocations, your naming the tradition “ours”, when in fact it was YOURS.  Why is this so difficult to understand?
I am proposing that we begin with an invocation representing everyone, wishing our elected officials a thoughtful and productive meeting.  Here’s my suggestion: A Councillor says:
“As we approach our work here today, may we be mindful of our role as leaders in Owen Sound/the Province of Ontario/Canada, etc., a place of great beauty and opportunity. As we face our decisions, may we be guided by strong ethics, sound judgement, wisdom, fairness and carefully acquired knowledge. May we never forget the trust placed in us by the people of Owen Sound/the Province of Ontario/Canada.”
And thankfully, religious people can continue to pray in their homes, churches and synagogues.
Terri Hope,  Owen Sound

HAT Monthly Meeting: Sat Oct 13, 1:30-3pm Ulli Diemer

Saturday, October 13, 1:30-3:00
OISE, 252 Bloor St. west, Room 5-230
Speaker: Ulli Diemer, “Is that an Archive in your Basement, or are you just Hoarding?”

Are you an ‘accidental archivist’? Have you been saving the publications and documents produced by the social justice projects you’ve been involved in? Have those materials you collected grown into a daunting accumulation of stuff in your basement, garage, or storage locker? Are you looking for a solution? Connexions is a Toronto-based project that works to preserve the history of grassroots movements for social change and make it accessible to new generations.
 According to Connexions coordinator Ulli Diemer, “We do it because we believe in the importance of people’s history, keeping alive memories, experiences, successes, failures, and visions” of those who have worked for social justice over the years. Connexions, an all-volunteer project founded in 1975, is best known for its online library for activists at, which attracts more than 70,000 users a month.

Urgent: Canadian Women’s Rights Under Attack

Urgent: Canadian Women’s Rights Under Attack
[this alert sent in by several people]

In just 48 hours, our MPs will debate a Conservative motion that the Canadian Medical Association, representing 70,000 doctors, is calling a ‘backdoor’ attempt to criminalize abortion.[1,2]In 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the abortion provision of the Criminal Code was unconstitutional. But this week, Parliament will be debating a motion that would threaten our reproductive rights - and the rights of our friends, daughters, mothers, sisters, and partners.[3,4,5]
Prime Minister Harper has chosen to allow this motion to go forward to a free vote in Parliament, so every MP must decide whether or not they will stand up for the rights that women and our allies have been fighting to protect for decades.
We need a huge public outcry to show our MPs that Canadians will not tolerate this covert attack on women’s rights.
Twenty-four years ago, Supreme Court Justice Wilson stated that governments in a democratic society must never interfere with a woman’s right to choose:
“The decision whether or not to terminate a pregnancy is essentially a moral decision and in a free and democratic society the conscience of the individual must be paramount to that of the state.” – Supreme Court Justice Wilson[3]
The motion seeks to undermine the Supreme Court’s ruling by reopening the debate on the legal definition of a human being under the Criminal Code. High-profile members of Harper’s caucus have stated that the real goal of the motion is to attack women’s rights:
“The ultimate intention of this motion is to restrict abortions at some development stage in Canada.” – Conservative Party whip, Gordon O'Connor[6]
This tactic has been used in the United States in a slow and relentless campaign to criminalize women’s reproductive rights and fan the flames of their culture war. Prime Minister Harper has publicly stated that he does not want to reopen this debate. Yet, while he exerts complete control over his own party, he has still chosen to let this covert attack on women’s rights go to a free vote that will test how Canadians react and open the door to attempts to criminalize abortion.
If enough of us speak out and contact our MPs right now, we can make sure this motion is decisively defeated and send a clear message that Canadians will defend our reproductive rights

Getting more women elected: Event tonight Sept 18

Getting more women elected
Tuesday September 18
Getting more women elected. How and Why?
How do proportional systems help get women elected and why it matters.  Joyce Hall, June Macdonald, film Menocracy.
130 Carlton Street—7:30pm---please register with Eventbrite
130 Carlton Street—7:30pm---please register with Eventbrite

Religion No Longer Adequate For The Dalai Lama

Ontario Humanist Society « Religion No Longer Adequate For The Dalai Lama

(thanks to Michael, who brought this up at the Heather Mallick meeting..)

 When His Holiness the Dalai Lama (HHDL) posted on Facebook this last Monday that “religion is no longer adequate,” every journalist with a religious beat was up in arms over his words. What did this mean for the millions of practicing Buddhists, not to mention for his millions of spiritually-curious online followers? But his atheistic-toned words should not come as a surprise. Back in June, he tweeted that he is “increasingly convinced that the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics beyond religion altogether.”

HAT FORUM Sat Sept 15 (11-12:30, time change)

HAT Forum
DateL  Saturday, September 15, 11:00-12:30  (note unusual time, as the special Afternoon Dialogue with Heather Mallick will begin at 1:30 pm )
Topic: What HAT is, could be, or should be.
Facilitator: Moses Klein
What to you are the goals of an organized humanist society such as HAT? How well does it achieve those goals? How could it do better? What would you like to see out of HAT?
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.