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. June 23, 11am.
Location:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street W
FACILITATOR:  Cecilia Rayo

TOPIC: Reflexions on the consequences that the result of the elections in USA, either way, will have on Canada and rest of the world.

Based on the knowledge you have, which presidential candidate do you think will provide the best economic options for Canada and the rest of the world?
In the political area, which do you think will be the best presidential option for Canada and the rest of the world?
 In the environmental area, which do you think will be the least bad option for Canada and the rest of the world?

Ancestors Trail Hike update - Sunday June 24, Erindale

From Kevin Saldhana - a reminder that this event will happen on Sunday June 24.  The Ancestors Trail hikes were started by the Richard Dawkins Foundation.  Kevin has again organized the one in Mississauga, with the cooperation of the ROM.
[Update from Kevin! 
The original 'Ancestor's Trail' based on Richard Dawkins book "The Ancestors TALE" was held by the Taunton Humanists inspired by a member teacher, Chris Jenord.  The book is one of my favourites... I bought 50 copies when it came out to distribute to local school libraries so when I heard about his project I just had to emulate it across the pond!  He has managed to garner Richard Dawkins himself as their keynote speaker for the event this year! We were at the ROM this evening for a preview opening and met with David Evans, the curator behind The Ultimate Dinosaurs; Giants from Gondwana which opens to the public this Saturday. The event is a hike through time starting from the dawn of multicellular animal life to modern humans, over a billion years (which is a figure many cannot comprehend)

The Hike starts at Erindale Park (registration is at 8:00am) and proceeds up the Culham trail at a gingerly pace of 55,000 years per stride, with significant common ancestry with different surviving species plotted along the way.  We will cover the 12.5k route in 4 hours to PineCliff Drive Park in Streetsville where we will have a barbeque lunch for participants as well as some experts on hand to discuss evolution.

People can join anywhere along the trail as we have predicted rendezvous times on our website at

More detailed instructions on the parking and distances can be found at

This may be easier for kids and others who may not want to do a 12.5k hike.  Dogs are welcome... we shared a common ancestry with them approximately 85 million years ago!!!

The event aims to educate the participants about our common ancestry with all other living beings around us (in the animal world at least, for now, as we actually have common ancestry with plants going back a couple of billion years!) and the urgent need to conserve their environments if we hope to survive ourselves.  There are many examples of how the world has changed over the last billion years, the most significant being the FIVE great extinctions.  According to experts, we may be going through a SIXTH extinction with the way the climate is changing and species are being lost.  In fact the ROM has the Schad Gallery of Biodiversity which is sub-titled 'A Planet in Crisis'!

David Culham, for whom the trail is named, usually accompanies us on this hike, explaining to participants the history of the trail and the tribulations he endured as a Councillor to create this beautiful legacy for all Mississaugans to enjoy.

Councillor Ron Starr supports the event by sponsoring the picnic area at PineCliff Dr. Park and necessary equipment from the City (picnic tables, permits, etc.).  He was at the start of the last hike and we hope to have him visit this year again.  Unfortunately Councillor George Carlson will not be available to attend.

There will be members of the United Conservationists along the trail to inform participants of their efforts to conserve sea life.  They were instrumental in promoting the ban on Shark fins that comes into effect at the end of this month in Mississauga.  We also hope to have curators from the ROM to discuss evolution and our place in it.

Dying with Dignity Stunning Victory - Gloria Taylor and Co-plaintiffs Succeed in Challenge |

Dying with Dignity Stunning Victory - Gloria Taylor and Co-plaintiffs Succeed in Challenge |
Palliative care is not enough, some currently accepted end-of-life practices bear similarities to physician-assisted death, it is possible to design safeguards that are largely effective.
These are just some of the conclusions reached by Madam Justice Lynn Smith in her just released decision on the Carter challenge.
She has declared that the law is to be stricken down in a year's time with Gloria Taylor given the right earlier to physician aid in dying earlier under certain conditions.
More details are available here.
The full decision is available here:

HAT FORUM Sat June 16, OISE 11am - Student Protest in Montreal

HAT FORUM: Sat June 16, 2012
LOCATION:OISE, 252 Bloor Street West,
TIME: 11am - 1pm
TOPIC: Student protest in Montreal
FACILITATOR:  Cornelia Laven

 *  Is post-secondary education a right or privilege?
*  Post secondary education is cheaper in Quebec  than in other provinces – why should the cost of tuition be raised or not raised?
* Are the proposed tuition hikes politically or economically motivated?
Bodies-Streets  is an article written by: Jonathan Sterne, McGill University,
Art History & Communication Studies; History & Philosophy of Science

“Bill 78 lays out strict regulations governing demonstrations of more than 50 people, including  having to give eight hours' notice for details such as the protest route, the duration and the time at which they are being held.” J.S.

Mr. Sterne argues that Law 78 criminalized bodies out of place because they interfere with the normal urban flows of people and money.  What do you think?

* The passing of Bill 78 appears to have enlarged the protest...Why might this be so.

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


HAPPY MIDSUMMER - and here is an announcement that our annual HAT SUMMER PARTY will almost certainly be at our usual ANNEX LOCATION on the afternoon of  SUNDAY AUGUST 19, 2012, from 4-8pm , for Stimulating conversation, food and fun

Please mark your calendars, and we'll post more information later on times, what you can bring, and all those details.


HAT FORUM SAT. June 9, OISE 11am

Saturday Forum of June 9th at OISE , 252 Bloor Street West
TIME: 11am-12:30pm - ROOMS 11-200/204

"In keeping with our afternoon topic "Stories About Storytellers" by Douglas Gibson we are encouraging those of us who feel comfortable, to  come and share a story from our life that helped shape our personal
philosophy or outlook on life."


HAT Monthly Speakers Meeting - members and guests welcome.
Saturday, June 9, 2012   1:30 – 3 pm
OISE, 252 Bloor west, Room 5-260
"Stories About Storytellers: Publisher Douglas Gibson shares his experiences of working with some of our greatest writers."
“No one has done more for Canadian Literature than this man, Douglas Gibson.” — Alistair MacLeod
Douglas Gibson is a living link to the foundation of our country’s literature, and also an impish and charming performer. His lifelong passion for these great writers is contagious.” – David Cheoros, Director, Edmonton Litfest
For more than 40 years, Douglas Gibson has been at the forefront of Canadian literature, most notably during his time as Publisher of McClelland & Stewart from 1988 to 2004. He has worked behind the scenes with some of the greatest writers and personalities of our time: Alice Munro, Pierre Trudeau, Robertson Davies, Alistair MacLeod, Mavis Gallant, Hugh MacLennan, Peter C. Newman, Brian Mulroney, Morley Callaghan, John Kenneth Galbraith, Paul Martin, James Houston, Peter Gzowski, W.O Mitchell, and many more. His book “Stories About Storytellers” is full of touching accounts of working with these luminaries; in a thoroughly entertaining manner he will share his experiences with us. 

Ontario’s new anti-bullying ‘gay-straight’ law was born of heroism -

Ontario’s new anti-bullying ‘gay-straight’ law was born of heroism -

The Ontario government’s anti-bullying bill, which will allow “gay-straight alliances” in schools, passed Tuesday at noon, opposed only by the Conservatives. It will apply to all schools, even Catholic ones where religious doctrine insists that homosexuality is a disorder and where many school administrators don’t seem even faintly embarrassed by that, nor by their position that the word “gay” is unacceptable in a school setting.
Columnists should admit their errors. Here’s one I made out of the purest cynicism. Early on in this fight, I threw my hands up, certain that Catholic boards would always caress this particular morsel of brutality and never legitimize the word “gay.” I did call the anti-gay elements “primitive” but went no further. Doesn’t matter, I told myself. There’ll still be clubs for bullied kids, they just won’t be called “gay-straight” although that was to me the whole point.
Shamefully, I skipped over the subject, which is like watching someone being bullied and not raising a hand to help. I think of beautiful young Jamie Hubley, the Ottawa student who killed himself last fall after enduring relentless bullying. What would he have thought of my undeveloped heart?
But Premier Dalton McGuinty didn’t hide behind jargon. He went out on a thin political limb and won the battle against the Conservatives and the Catholic school system for bullied gay kids.
I do think politicians are the most cynical people around, but I was wrong. The cynic was me.
So now I will go in the opposite direction and assume that ethical Catholic schools will now refuse to accept money from the “gay-straight alliance” mandating government and leave the public system. They will set up as independent religious schools — perhaps a home school in a home the size of Hogwarts — and finance them privately. And I will salute their courage.
As an atheist — “humanist” is the current term — I avoid writing about religion. But this issue seems more about ethics and pride. If following the law so appalls Catholic boards, then they must not let an anti-bullying government bully them into decency.

Vatileaks Scandal Exposes Pope's Frail Leadership

Vatileaks Scandal Exposes Pope's Frail Leadership - SPIEGEL ONLINE
fascinating reading, of a sort -- and not the first time a spy has been incarcerated in modern times..

In fact, Gabriele is not the first spy to be exposed there. In what is now an almost forgotten case, there was another raven who ironically worked for another pope who had chosen the pontifical name Benedict. Rudolf von Gerlach, the papal chamberlain, tried to thwart the policies of Benedict XV, who was intent on safeguarding the Church's neutrality during World War I.

Von Gerlach, who enjoyed considerably more influence than Gabriele, a simple butler, fostered excellent ties with Germany and its allies. While he was accused of treason, Benedict XV was caught in the crossfire and viewed himself as a victim of an anti-clerical conspiracy. And what happened to von Gerlach, the raven? Though sentenced to lifelong imprisonment, he was eventually released. He then lived in Switzerland, where he abandoned the priesthood, lived an extravagant life and nurtured extremely close ties with the pope in Rome for the rest of his life.
In other words, being briefly detained in the Vatican's dungeon doesn't necessarily mean the end of one's career.
Translated from the German by Josh Ward

HAT FORUM Sat JUNE 2, 11am - 1pm

HAT FORUM SAT June 2  11am - 1pm.
LOCATION:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street West. 

Previous discussions have made it clear that HAT members do not support the separate school system, but is it worthwhile to seek a constitutional amendment to abolish them? What are the political obstacles to such a move? How should supporters of a single public system go about it? What effect does the current controversy over gay-straight alliances have on the issue?

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
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.