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. Feb. 2, 11am-1pm "Anxiety"

Date:  Saturday February 2, 2013
TIME:  11am - 1pm
LOCATION:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street West, Room 2-198
FACILITATOR:  Cecilia Rayo

Anxiety disorder is said to be the common cold of mental disorders, worldwide, affecting as many of 25% of North Americans at some time in their lives.

1.  How can you tell whether you are facing a rational threat or whether it’s just (irrational) anxiety?
2.  Is modern society more prone to anxiety or less?
3.  What interrelationship might religion have with anxiety?
4.  How might authoritarianism figure in?  What about loneliness?
5.  Why do twice as many women have it? And whites as opposed to blacks and Hispanics.
6.  What other factors do you think might figure in?

This is an open discussion, and all are welcome. 
There is no charge

Darwin Day Event, Sat Feb 9, 3:30: The Clergy Project & the Post Theological World

The Clergy Project & the Post Theological World:  How a community for non-believing religious leaders came to exist and what Darwin has to do with it.

Speakers:   Catherine Dunphy, former Chaplain, now acting Executive Director of the Clergy Project and Teresa MacBain, former Methodist Pastor, now PR Director for American Atheists; will speak about the Clergy Project, an online community for non-believing religious leaders.

Leaving faith for the embrace of reason, freethinking and secularism wasn't an easy process, but thanks to Darwin and his Dangerous Idea* the evidence was just too hard to ignore.


The Clergy Project is a confidential online community for active and former clergy who do not hold supernatural beliefs. It is a 'safe house' where members can freely discuss the challenges they face in leaving ministry and establishing a new life. You can visit our public website at

*Dennett, Daniel. Darwin's Dangerous Idea; Simon and Schuster, 1995

Event details:
Saturday, Feb 9, 2013, 3;30-5pm
Multifaith Centre @ Koffler House.
569 Spadina Ave.
Toronto, ON M5S 2J7
(TTC, Driving Instructions and map here
Koffler House is on Spadina Circle, the entrance is from Bancroft Avenue, next to the GSU Grad Club Pub.

We intend this event to be a collaboration between: UTSA, Cafe Scientifique, York FreeSAY, encouraged and supported by the Ontario Humanist Society,
Catherine Dunphy
Catherine is the acting Executive Director for the Clergy Project. She is a former Roman Catholic Chaplain who left the church when she recognized that she was no longer a believer. Catherine completed both an undergraduate and masters degree in Theology (at UofT and St Francis Xavier). As one of the original 52 members of the project, Catherine has been volunteering to help organize the Clergy Project from the beginning. She reports to the volunteer Board of Directors and she is actively working on projects to benefit Clergy Project members. Catherine is a Communications Professional who never looked back once she left the church.

Teresa MacBain
 Teresa  became a non-believer after more than twenty years of ministry. She started her career in ministry serving along side her father, a Baptist minister. She taught in Christian Schools, served as a worship pastor, associate pastor and senior pastor. Teresa received her bachelor’s degree from Samford University in Christian Education followed by her Masters in Divinity from Duke Divinity School. Teresa holds the distinction of being the first female graduate of The Clergy Project and as our first acting Executive Director. As a former minister, Teresa brings a broad understanding of the religious lifestyle and its effects on personal wellbeing to the nontheist movement. She’s a dynamic and entertaining public speaker with a heartfelt compassion for those struggling to completely free themselves from their religion. Teresa was the Public Relations Director for American Atheists and is now the Executive Director of Humanists of Florida, she remains a Clergy Project Board Member.

R v Morgentaler: Reflections After 25 Years, Toronto, Jan 29, UofT

R v Morgentaler: Reflections After 25 Years, Toronto, Jan 29, UofT

 On January 28, 1988, 25 years ago, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canada's abortion law using the still new Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The legal battle was long, dramatic and groundbreaking - including a police raid on a clinic, novel constitutional evidence and arguments, an extraordinary criminal jury trial, an acquittal overturned by the Court of Appeal, followed by a week-long hearing and divided decision at the Supreme Court. Today, the case remains one of the most significant decisions in Canadian law. This panel provides a unique opportunity to hear from participants in the case as they reflect on the historic events and the continued significance of the case today.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - 5:30-7:30 p.m. (Reception to follow)
Bennett Lecture Hall, Flavelle House,  
78 Queens Park Crescent W, Toronto, ON M5S 2C5,

Faculty of Law, University of Toronto

Dr. Robert Scott - Appellant and Co-Accused
Morris Manning, QC - Counsel for the Appellants
Kirk Makin - Justice Reporter with the Globe and Mail
Lorraine Weinrib - Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto
Carolyn Egan - Expert witness at trial

Paul Schabas - Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP and co-counsel for the Appellant
Cheryl Milne - Executive Director, David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights

REGISTRATIONPlease register online for this event  HERE

HAT FORUM, Sat Jan 26, 11am Bahen Centre [NOTE CHANGE OF VENUE]

DATE:  Sat. January 26, 2013,  11am - 1pm.
LOCATION:   BA B025 Bahen Centre, 40 Saint George St,
TOPIC:  HAT's Humanist Principles, Fallibility and Human Ethics.

Why is Fallibility so important to Humanists?
How does the Humanist concept of fallibility differ from the Theist one
How can reminding ourselves of humanity's fallibility make us better Humanists

 Human Ethics
a. The HAT statement of the Principle concerning Human Ethics states that Humanism "affirms...the need for community". 
    • Why is this true? Why does humanism need community? 
    • Theism is often very good at creating community.  How can our "need for community" be better practiced than it currently is, thereby strengthening humanism?
b. Do Human Ethics flow naturally from the other Humanist Principles or are they simply a responsibility "bolted" on to fill the void left by the absence of a higher power?
c. Is it possible for a Humanist, acting according to the Humanist principles, to be a detriment to society?

This is an open discussion.  All are welcome.

Darwin Day Event: Thu. Feb 7: Darwin and Evolutionary Biology

Darwin Day Event: Darwin and Evolutionary Biology, UofT, Feb 7, 8pm,
Darwin, Lizards, and Evolutionary Biology in the 21st Century
Prof Jonathan Losos

The Annual Darwin Lecture
Thursday, February 7, 2013    8 - 9pm
Co-presented by:
The Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology,
University of Toronto and The Royal Ontario Museum

Modern day evolutionary biologists combine DNA studies with field experiments that can detect Darwinian evolution in real time. Lizards are an ideal subject for such research.
Professor Jonathan Losos, Monique and Philip Lehner Professor for the Study of Latin America
Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
FREE admission.   Registration is not required. 

Seating is limited and is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Arrive early to ensure a seat.
Location: Earth Science Centre Auditorium, Room 1050. University of Toronto, 22 Russell St. Easiest entrance is off Bancroft Avenue

HAT MONTHLY MEETING: Sat Feb 9, "Slavery: It's history, legacy, and Why it persists"

DATE:   Sat. Feb 9, 2013   1:30-3pm
TOPIC:   "Slavery: Its History, Legacy and Why It Persists"
SPEAKER:  Dr. Martin Klein
LOCATION:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street W, Room 4-414

Dr. Martin Klein is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Toronto. His books include Slavery and Colonial Rule in French West Africa and the Historical Dictionary of Slavery and Abolition. HAT members also know him as the co-host, for the past four years, of our annual summer party."

All are welcome, free event, no admission fee.

HAT FORUM Sat 19 January. "First Nations"

HAT Forum
Date: Saturday 19 January, 11am - 1pm.
Location:  OISE, 252 Bloor street West, Room 2-198
Topic: Relations with First Nations
Proposed by: Moses Klein
Facilitated by: Deborah Jenkins

How should society and government in Canada deal with current issues concerning native peoples? Do we need to rethink the relationship between First Nations and the country?

Obituary for HAT member George Baker

George Baker Obituary
Born in Burin, Newfoundland on March 19, 1924. Died Monday, January 7, 2013
By Don Cullen

A true and magnanimous friend to the humanist community in Canada has died.  George Baker lost his battle with cancer.  He was 89 years of age.  Born in Newfoundland, his family came to Toronto in the dirty thirties when the depression was upon us.  He had eight brothers and sisters, left school in grade 7, and entered the work force.  Prospects for advancement did not look good.  Times were hard.

World War II saw George in the Air Force as a navigator in a Bomber squadron.  IQ and aptitude tests had proven him gifted.  Back in Toronto he found employment with General Electric and Bell Telephone as an electrician, always looking for extra work to support his wife and two daughters.

George’s father was a strict and devoted member of the Christian and Missionary Alliance.  At age 14 George rebelled.  Later he and his wife Margaret became Unitarians and he discovered Robert Green Ingersoll, the 19th century humanist writer.  George had gradually become a non-academic intellectual immersed in biographies of famous reformers in anti-slavery and feminism.  He also made himself knowledgeable with Scientology, Mormonism and Islam.

 George and Margaret supported a student from Thailand who was studying at U of T.  Having spent some time in Indonesia on a major electrical project, George became acquainted with the Orient, where he made a business deal in electronics with a Chinese entrepreneur.  Their business flourished.  This depression era kid from Newfoundland finally had financial security.

He had supported the Unitarian congregation, but became interested in secular humanism.  He joined HAT as a lifetime member.  Officially HAT consisted of a postal box for mail, and a telephone number with an answering machine.  There were ten meetings a year, with outside speakers.  A group within HAT longed for a home, possibly a storefront with a public face.  George Baker volunteered to support the idea.  HAT expanded into weekly discussions at OISE and the search for a home location began.

George purchased a ramshackle house on Harbord Street and an architect was hired for renovations, all financed by George.  A strike at City Hall delayed the necessary documents and George sold that property.  Soon a problem at U of T introduced Justin Trottier, Jennie Fiddis and Elaine Cairns.  They were given some financial support by HAT, which felt the need to encourage younger members. Doctor Robert Buckman got excited about the humanist activities at U of T, and a meeting was held with Rob, Doctor Henry Morgenthaler, George, Jim Cranwell, and me (Don Cullen).  This led directly to the lease of 116 Beverley Street, again financed completely by George.  Originally, Robert Buckman was to have been a co-signer of the lease with George, but got pneumonia and never came on board.

The original intention was to have a place where U of T humanists could hang out and socialize, HAT could expand, and Ontario skeptics could come aboard and participate.  It was hoped that the Humanist Association of Canada (HAC) might move from Ottawa to Canada’s largest city, and there was talk of a loose association with the Center for Inquiry (HQ Amherst NY).  CFI had hoped to establish a presence in Toronto some years earlier, but that hadn’t happened yet.

 U of T students dug in enthusiastically, but the Skeptics became skeptical and opted out.  HAT had a general meeting and unanimously set up shop.  HAC showed minimal interest and ultimately none at all.   During this period HAT Sunday forums grew quickly.  Within a year and a half we needed to split the group into two discussion groups to handle the volume of people coming.  At its peak 60 or 70 people a week would show up, and membership exceed 200 people at this time.

 By this time George was in his eighties and wanted HAT to start contributing financially, be it ever so small, for the lease at Beverley Street.  His age was a large factor in his thinking.  Responsibility would eventually have to be passed on.  HAT agonized over fund raising.  George had spent the better part of a million dollars for the sake of humanism, and wanted to see it continue successfully independently.  HAT ultimately refused to accept any financial responsibility in this regard.

George had been an admirer of Paul Kurtz and the Center for Inquiry.  He asked CFI to take over the operation of Beverley Street, and continued to support it financially.  Justin Trottier formally took over leadership, and in spite of some differences with colleagues, acquitted himself well on TV and other media.  With focus and hard work, he established CFI groups across Canada, much to the delight of George.

George Baker, sometimes feisty, always candid and ready for a joke, was humble about his contributions to humanism.  He had a sense of irony akin to Margaret Atwood’s, and never carried a grudge. 

 He leaves his wife of 59 years, Margaret, and two daughters: Diane, a successful novelist and lawyer with two children, Alan and Ian, and Donnamarie, a retired hospital administrator who was George’s primary caregiver this past year.

 Those of us who knew him well will miss George terribly.

Guru's view on Indian rape raises anger, but shared by many

Guru's view on Indian rape raises anger, but shared by many - TrustLaw 
this article was also posted today by

Trustlaw is the Reuters/Thomson foundation for good governance (they publish the corruption index) and women's rights, and it sponsored the poll listed in this article about the most dangerous places in the world for women - they also sponsor conferences on trafficking, womens rights, fgm, forced marriage, slavery, and the effect on women of economic trends, as well as transgender rights and other gender issues. They are a useful source of information on world trends.  mb

By Frank Jack Daniel and Satarupa Bhattacharjya
NEW DELHI, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Comments by an Indian spiritual leader that a gang-rape victim shared blame for her assault disgusted many in a country shaken by the crime, but his view represents a deep streak of chauvinism shared by a broad swathe of a society in transition.
The 23-year-old physiotherapy student and a male companion were left bleeding on a highway after she was raped and beaten on a moving bus in New Delhi on Dec. 16. She died two weeks later in a Singapore hospital from internal injuries.
"Guilt is not one-sided," the guru, Asaram Bapu, told followers this week, adding that if the student had pleaded with her six attackers in God's name, and told them she was of the "weaker sex", they would have relented.
Such views have caused outrage among India's growing urban middle class. Protesters burned effigies of the yoga guru near his headquarters in western India, media reported, and Twitter exploded with posts calling him "medieval" and a "misogynist".
But he is not alone. Similar opinions are being expressed by leaders in the mainstream of society, not just on the fringes. Some politicians have called on schoolgirls not to wear skirts and told women to dress soberly and not venture out at night.
Before last month's gang rape caused shockwaves, it was common for police to point the finger of blame in sex crime cases at women's clothing, or the fact that they worked alongside men.
Such views are not unique to India but they point to growing discomfort among some conservatives about a perceived erosion of traditional values in fast-changing cities where Western ways are gaining popularity.
President Pranab Mukherjee's son described women who protested against violence in New Delhi's streets in the days after the rape as "dented and painted". He said the protests had "very little connection with ground reality".
New Delhi and other cities have seen a considerable crumbling of caste and gender barriers over the past decade, creating more opportunities for social mobility and a more open culture with women playing a larger role.
But just a few miles from the capital, village councils with the power to set local laws made headlines last year by banning women from using mobile phones and wearing jeans.
A global poll of experts last year by TrustLaw, a legal news service run by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, showed India to be the worst place among G20 countries to be a woman.
Activists say most sex crimes in India go unreported, and official data show that almost all go unpunished. Reported rape cases rose nearly 17 percent between 2007 and 2011.

Science for Peace: Free Events in January, 2013

Science for Peace: Events
Science for Peace: Events
(These lectures are all free.  See more info on the webpage, including speaker bios)

2013-01-10 Confronting a Nuclear Age: Risk Assessment in Technology, the Environment, Economics and Security
Free public lecture at 3-5pm on January 10th, 2013 in Room 044 (east end of the building in the basement) at University College, 15 King’s College Circle, Toronto, ON
Synopsis: Planning in the nuclear age requires us to choose among various technological options that may threaten (or instead may benefit) the biosphere on which human health and security depend. We will consider the controversial assessment of risks and benefits—the direct biological impacts of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy and their indirect economic impacts on our high-energy civilization. This lecture is part of the series Confronting a Nuclear Age which is co-sponsored by University College Health Studies Programme, Canadian Pugwash Group, Science for Peace and Voice of Women for Peace.

2013-01-10 Honour-Killings: Women’s Safety in Honour-based Cultures
Free public lecture at 7-9pm on January 10th, 2013 in Room 144 (east end of the building on the ground floor) at University College, 15 King’s College Circle, Toronto, ON
Lecture by Aysan Sev’er, Professor Emerita

2013-01-17 Confronting a Nuclear Age: The Atom and the Bomb - the discovery of fission and the development of nuclear weapons
Free public lecture at 3-5pm on January 17th, 2013 in Room 044 (east end of the building in the basement) at University College, 15 King’s College Circle, Toronto, ON

2013-01-17 Toward a Billion More Trees in Ontario
Free public lecture at 7-9pm on January 17th, 2013 in Room 144 (east end of the building on the ground floor) at University College, 15 King’s College Circle, Toronto, ON

2013-01-24 Confronting a Nuclear Age: The Cuban Missile Crisis - a UN-mediated settlement
Free public lecture at 3-5pm on January 24th, 2013 in Room 044 (east end of the building in the basement) at University College, 15 King’s College Circle, Toronto, ON
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.