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: Censorship

HAT Forum
Saturday 3 January 2015
519 Church St., Meeting Room #304
Topic: Censorship
Proposed by: Michael Chinn

Act of changing or suppressing speech or writing that is considered subversive of the common good. In the past, most governments believed it their duty to regulate the morals of their people; only with the rise in the status of the individual and individual rights did censorship come to seem objectionable. Censorship may be preemptive (preventing the publication or broadcast of undesirable information) or punitive (punishing those who publish or broadcast offending material).

For our discussion, let’s discuss the following:
·        Where does it occur?
·        Are there instances where censorship is appropriate?
-      Do you know of instances where censorship may have occurred?
·        What happens when we allow the free market to decide without any restrictions?
·       Should we consider political and economic influences?

Do news outlets consider the implications of reporting a story, critical of a major advertiser?
Do news outlets consider the implications of reporting a story, critical of an individual or political party if it might result in having less access? Consider information outlets, favourable to those with power are given more access, compared to those that are not.

HAT Forum: "The Interview" and its consequences

HAT Forum
Saturday 20 December, 11:00-1:00
519 Church St., Meeting Room #304
Topic: Events surrounding the movie "The Interview"
Proposed by: Moses Klein

A discussion of issues related to computer hacking and bomb threats responding to the movie "The Interview". Have various actors (Sony, DPRK, USA, the directors, et al) acted responsibly? What implications do you see for the movie business, for artistic freedom, or others?

HAT Forum: Democracy

HAT Forum
Saturday 20 December 2014, 11:00-1:00
519 Church St.
Topic: Democracy in Canada
Proposed by: Dick Combeer

  1. Does your vote matter?
  2. In what ways is Canada a Democratic country? In what was is it not?
  3. In Canada, and in provincial, urban and other jurisdictions, how do you see Democracy being obviously subverted?
  4. How many jurisdictions do you see where democracy is simply absent?
  5. What is so great about Democracy?
  6. How and why does democracy appear to work better (or worse)  in other jurisdictions (Ontario, Toronto, Unions, workplaces, etc)?
  7. Are there other countries where the Democratic Ideal is better understood, expressed, and implemented? Where? How?
  8. What is behind the typical alarmingly low voter turnout in elections here? 
  9. How to re-energize Canada’s democracy?

Some references of interest:
Democracy, Canadian style: How do you like it so far (Lawrence Martin, The Globe and Mail, December 2009)
Election Bill an Affront to Democracy, Marc Mayrand says (CBC, February 2014)
Wikipedia article on Proportional Representation
Has Big Oil Hijacked Democracy?

Debbie Pond speaks on Human Trafficking

HAT monthly speaker
Speaker: Debbie Pond, RCMP Inspector (retired), M.O.M.
Topic: Human Trafficking
When: Saturday 10 January 2015, 1:30-3:00
Where: OISE (252 Bloor St. W.) Room 4-414

Debbie Pond, RCMP – Inspector (Ret.), won many awards during her career in law enforcement, including the Order of Merit of the Police Force (2007) and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2013). She is a member of the National Advisory Team of Defend Dignity, an organization to end human trafficking in Canada, and Chair of the Board of Directors of u-r home, a place of hope for rescued victims of human trafficking. She will bring her considerable credentials and experience to bear on an examination of this very important topic.

HAT Book club: Behind the Beautiful Forevers

HAT Book Discussion
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity
by Katherine Boo
HAT discussion on Saturday January 3rd
Call 416-966-1361 or email for location.

HAT Forum: pipeline questions

HAT Forum
Saturday 13 December 2014, 11:00-12:30
519 Church St., Meeting Room #304
Topic: Pipeline questions
Proposed by: Richard Dowsett
Note: The Forum will be shortened so that members can get to OISE for Paola Rodriguez Hidalgo's talk on quasars

The constant wrangle over the building of the Keystone XL pipeline has raised the profile Pipeline Questions in public discourse and in the media. What can we say about it as Humanists? as Citizens?
1. Economic - Is a pipeline from Alberta a key economic driver for Canada's future? What are the benefits to Canadians?
2. Environmental Direct - What are environmental risks of pipelines? How much risk is acceptable? Is the current regulatory framework enough to make the pipeline owners truly accountable? 

​3. Environmental Indirect - Some see tar-sand​ oil as an environmental catastrophe on it's own. Does investing billions in a pipeline "double down" on the tar-sands investment and dedicate Canada to a "fossil fuels at all costs" future?
4. Political - Who gets a say? Who gets to decide? Should levels government use Eminent Domain methods to force the cooperation from landowners in the name of a national interest? 

HAT wants your input

The HAT steering committee is looking for input from members on two questions:

(1) We will soon be awarding the 2014 Toronto Humanist of the Year award. It is given every year to a person in the Greater Toronto Area who, in her/his actions and creative endeavours, exemplifies the principles of Humanism: a commitment to reason, ethics, compassion and human dignity. We are soliciting nominations members for the newest recipient.

(2) Some time in the spring, we intend to organize a group excursion. What activites -- museums, cultural performances, nature trips, or whatever? -- would you be interested in sharing with other secular humanists?

Any suggestions on either of these questions can be sent to the co-ordinator at

HAT Forum: Subcultures and Society

HAT Forum
Saturday 6 December 2014, 11:00-1:00
519 Church St. Meeting Room #303
Proposed by: Richard Dowsett

Canada acknowledges the powerful effects of traditional Mass media (TV, radio, print) by disallowing certain portrayals and presentations (sex, swearing, smoking) or limiting them according to voluntary codes of ethics and standards, in the interest of the public good. 

New media has facilitated the flourishing of sub-cultures (blog sites, social media, video gaming etc.) not subject to any such community oversight. Their independent “in-group” nature also makes them sensitive to scrutiny from “outsiders” and resistant to any change that is seen to come from them.
1.    1. Do we believe that immersion in and exposure to a subculture's values and norms affects the behaviour of its members in the wider world? Is this belief supported by scientific research or study?
2.    2. Should the greater society seek to have any input on sub-cultures if their norms and values are seen as detrimental to the greater society?
3.    3. Anita Sarkeesian on her website created a series of videos on the depiction of women in video games. Even though she never called for anything more than open consideration of the effects that video games were having on this sub-culture’s members, she has been vilified and subject to a massive online backlash called “GamerGate”. Should she “butt out” of this space or should she be defended on the grounds of “free and open inquiry”?
4.    4. Online cultures blur the lines between public and private spheres. Their open and easy access by anyone on the web makes them seem public yet their strong norms, unique culture and relationships mean they act like private clubs when approached. Should a private organization, club or sub-culture be subject to scrutiny through the lens of the greater society? In what ways is such scrutiny beneficial/appropriate or detrimental/intrusive?
5.    5. Think about religions as subcultures and apply the above questions and consideration to them as you have to online subculture​

Debate on Trinity Western Law School controversy

The Christian TV show Context with Lorna Dueck is inviting humanists to be part of its studio audience during a debate over Trinity Western Law School and its anti-gay, anti-premarital sex code of conduct.

Going Godless 
Tuesday, December 2, 5:30 PM
Attempts by a private BC university to open a Christian law school have faced strong winds of opposition in the courts—and in the court of public opinion.  This week on Context, Advocates and opponents of Trinity Western Law School will debate its right to exist.  Participants include; Clayton Ruby, one of Canada's top constitutional lawyers; Justin Trottier, with the Canadian Secular Alliance; Earl Phillips, executive director, Trinity Western Law School, Janet Buckingham, Author of Fighting Over God and Andy Bannister with RZIM Canada. 
To reserve your COMPLIMENTARY TICKETS please write to or call 416-599-9777 x 58

Location: Studio 42 at the CBC building located at 250 Front St. W. in Toronto.

Paola Rodriguez Hidalgo speaks about Understanding Quasars

HAT Monthly Speaker
Dr. Paola Rodriguez Hidalgo, York University
Topic: Understanding Quasars
Saturday, December 13, 2014, 1:30 – 3:00 pm
OISE (252 Bloor St. W.), Room 4-414

Dr. Paola Rodriguez Hidalgo, who is from Spain, studied at the Instituto de Astrofisica de las Islas Canarias and did her PhD at the University of Florida. She was a visiting assistant professor at the University of Toronto and is currently back to York University as a Research Associate. She loves astronomy (obviously!), music and touring the city. She will speak on Understanding Quasars (and their extremely(!) high velocity outflows). Quasars are among the most luminous objects in the sky. These very energetic regions lie at the centre of massive galaxies and are powered by a super-massive black hole. If these concepts raise questions for you, come out and get some answers from an enthusiastic and much admired speaker.

HAT Forum: The Jian Ghomeshi Affair

HAT Forum
Saturday 29 November, 11:00-1:00
OISE (252 Bloor St. W.) Room 4-420  *NOTE UNUSUAL LOCATION*
Topic: The effect of the alleged behavior of Jian Ghomeshi on the relationship between the sexes
Proposed by: Michael Chin

1.      What might be the cause for this type of behavior?
2.      Why are some people attracted to celebrity even though they are aware of a potential risk. We often hear of people who are attracted to those who are on death row or to those who have been convicted of heinous crimes such as Paul Bernardo.
3.     There are many who do not want to leave abusive relationships and some seem to attract those with a history of inappropriate behavior.
4.      Is there anything we can learn from the reluctance of those in power to take action against a “star” such as a Jian Ghomeshi, Ray Rice or Jimmy Saville? Is this any different from our reluctance to “do the right” thing if there could be a personal cost? 
5.      How do we define consensual activity?  Should we require that any physical activity that occurs in private be agreed to in writing? Should we outlaw certain types of behavior? However, violent activities such as Boxing, MMA (mixed martial arts)  where the objective is to render your opponent incapable of functioning are legal and regulated. Should the government get more involved in regulating the behavior between the sexes? If Ghomeshi and others are interested in “rough sex” should the government regulate this activity to protect the public? 
6.      Might this case result in false accusations in the future?
7.      Could an unintended consequence be a chill in the banter as it relates to the majority of the interaction between the sexes that both parties do not find objectionable?

HAT Forum: Parental Authority and Parental Responsibility

HAT Forum
Saturday 22 November 2014, 11:00-1:00
519 Church St., Meeting Room #304
Topic: Parental Authority and Parental Responsibility
Proposed by: Moses Klein
1.       What responsibilities do parents have to their children? What responsibilities does the larger society have? Do they conflict?
2.       In what ways have our society’s standards about child-raising changed in your lifetime? In your opinion are these changes for the better?
3.       Is corporal punishment ever acceptable? With what limits? Under what conditions should outside agencies intervene?
4.       Religious parents typically inculcate their children with their own beliefs. Is this acceptable? With what limitations, if any?
5.       Should parents have the right to refuse medical treatment on their kids’ behalf? On what basis?

HAT Forum: Dying with Dignity

HAT Forum
Date: Saturday, November 15, 11:00 AM
Place: 519 Church St.,
Topic: Dying with Dignity
Proposed by Camila Arroyo

1. Is there an ethical difference between passive DWD (ie withholding treatment with palliative care) and active DWD and are both equally acceptable?
2. What legal sanctions should be put in place to avoid abuse of DWD laws?
3. Is it posible to put this law in place without having abuse? What's the best possible way to avoid abuse of the system on elderly or those unable to afford treatment?
4. How does one determine who is mentally capable of making these decisions and what possibilities could there be for those deemed uncapable for making those decisions? Moreover, Should this only be for terminal illnesses? 
5. In one study, When palliative care was provided, a statistically significant amount of people chose to change their mind about assisted suicide (45%). Should this choice be exhausted before doctor assisted suicide?
6. What kind of training and education, if any, should doctors and nurses have in discussion of this topic to terminally ill patients? For example, should doctors and nurses be allowed to inform patients on that option first?
7. Should the law be open to more than "terminaly ill patients with life expectancy of 6 months or less"? Can this decision be made by proxy (ie. parent to child)?
8. How do we best use this law in situations where prognosis is more unpredictable?

Note: This will be a shortened Forum, so that we can all get to Dale Roy's talk afterward.

HAT Book Club: A Year in Provence

HAT Book Club

A Year in Provence, by Peter Mayle
Discussion on Saturday, December 6th, 2:30 PM
Call 416-966-1361 or email for location

Book summary:
Here is the month-by-month account of the charms and frustrations that Peter Mayle and his wife -- and their two large dogs -- experience their first year in the remote country of the Luberon restoring a two-centuries-old stone farmhouse that they bought on sight. From coping in January with the first mistral, which comes howling down from the Rhone Valley and wreaks havoc with the pipes, to dealing as the months go by with the disarming promises and procrastination of the local masons and plumbers, Peter Mayle delights us with his strategies for survival. He manages to transport us info all the earthy pleasures of Provencal life and lets us live vicariously in a tempo governed by seasons, not by days.

Dale Roy on SKETCH:Creating Opportunities through Art for Marginalized Young People

HAT monthly speaker
Speaker: Dale Roy
Topic: SKETCH:Creating Opportunities through Art for Marginalized Young People
Date: Saturday, November 15, 1:30 PM
Location: OISE (252 Bloor St. W.), Room 4-414

SKETCH creates opportunities for young people ages 16 to 29 living street involved, homeless or otherwise on the margins to experience the transformative power of the arts; to build leadership and economic self-sufficiency in the arts; and to cultivate social and environmental change through the arts.

About Dale Roy:
With an educational background in psychology, journalism and marketing, Dale Roy has been developing ideas and strategies to help organizations reach their objectives for over a decade. Dale joined SKETCH to lead its marketing and communication goals. At SKETCH, Dale is passionate about working with the community to develop the strategies, stories and relationships that bring SKETCH's mission to the public.

This event is free and open to the public.

HAT Forum: Taxation

HAT Forum
Saturday, November 8, 11:00-1:00
519 Church St., Room #106 (Eastroom South)
Topic: Taxes
Proposed by: Dov Mileevsky

1) what is the optimal method of taxing the public: (a) income tax (b) consumption tax (c) property tax?

2) is it fair to penalize higher income individuals by taxing them at a higher percentage vs lower income people? 

3) what should the US government do regarding corporations who have generated billions of dollars offshore and now refuse to repatriate those funds back to the US and incur the tax penalty?

4) is it true that the general public cannot always be trusted to make financially sound decisions with government funds?

5) is it acceptable that religious institutions have special privileges regarding taxes? Should religious schools be allowed to offer a tax write off for tuition? Are charities in general abusing "tax write offs" in comparison to other types of institutions?

HAT Forum: Responses to the Parliament shootings

HAT Forum
Saturday, November 1st, 11:00-1:00
519 Church St., Meeting Room #303
Topic: Responses to the Parliament shootings
Proposed by: Moses Klein

Did the Parliament Hill shootings change the way we feel about security, about openness, or about Canada? How is the country reacting, and how should it react? What concerns do you have about the balance between security and openness -- have we found the right balance, or do you think we will? What are the causes of such actions, and can we do anything to address them?

HAT Forum: Jobs

HAT Forum
Date: Saturday, October 25, 2014
Time: 11:00-1:00
Location:  519 Church St, Fireplace Room 201
Proposed by: Isabel Foot
Topic: Jobs

Is astounding unemployment globally a side effect of new technology?
Where will jobs come from?
If there are so many things we'd like to do why is there nobody to "pay" for them?

October 18: No Forum, annual members party instead

There is no HAT Forum on Saturday, October 18th. Instead, HAT members are invited to the annual party that afternoon. If you have not gotten the invitation, contact us ((416) 966-1361 or for directions.

Should We Go? Combat against Islamic State

HAT Forum
Saturday, October 11, 11:00-1:00
519 Church St., Room 201 (Fireplace Room)
Proposed by: Bill Kennedy

This topic was drawn from features in the Globe and Mail, Saturday, October 4th.

A discussion of the opinions of government and media, and our own opinions, on sending Canadian military assistance to fight the Islamic State.

Upcoming HAT monthly events

More details on these scheduled HAT monthly events will be posted later. All speaker events are open to the public free of charge.

Saturday, October 18
HAT annual members' party, 2:00-6:00
HAT members should receive details with the Fall 2014 newsletter. If you do not receive an invitation, contact us for location information. This event is open to HAT members and their guests.

Saturday, November 15
HAT monthly speaker, 1:30-3:00
Speaker: Dale Roy, SKETCH
Topic: SKETCH: Creating Opportunities through Art for Marginalized Young People
SKETCH creates opportunities for young people ages 16 to 29 living street involved, homeless or otherwise on the margins to experience the transformative power of the arts; to build leadership and economic self-sufficiency in the arts; and to cultivate social and environmental change through the arts.

Saturday, December 13
HAT monthly speaker, 1:30-3:00
Speaker: Dr. Paola Rodriguez Hidalgo, Research Associate, York University
Topic: Understanding Quasars

Saturday, January 10
HAT monthly speaker, 1:30-3:00
Speaker: Debbie Pond, M.O.M.
Topic: Human Trafficking
Debbie Pond, RCMP – Inspector (Ret.), won many awards during her career in law enforcement, including the Order of Merit of the Police Force (2007) and the Queen Elizabeth 11 Diamond Jubilee Medal (2013). She is a member of the National Advisory Team of Defend Dignity, an organization to end human trafficking in Canada, and Chair of the Board of Directors of u-r home, a place of hope for rescued victims of human trafficking. She will bring her considerable credentials and experience to bear on an examination of this very important topic.

HAT Forum: Public Transit in Toronto

Topic: Public Transit in Toronto
Date: Saturday 4 October 2014, 11:00-1:00
Location: 519 Church St., Meeting Room #304
Proposed by: Moses Klein

What is the value of public transit to a major city?
How does public transit fit into an overall transportation strategy?
What are the most important challenges facing Toronto's public transit system?
What, if anything, should be the priorities for future transit development in Toronto?
How well are our political leaders dealing with the transit issue?

Revisiting the HAT Forum guidelines

HAT Forum
Saturday 27 September, 2014, 11:00
519 Church St. Room 304

Topic: Revisiting the Forum guidelines for participants and facilitators
Proposed by: Bill Kennedy

We will be revisiting the Forum guidelines and guidelines for facilitators. Note: because of the talk by Catherine Dunphy this will be a shortened discussion.

HAT Forum: Canada and ISIS

HAT Forum
Saturday 13 September 2014, 11:00-1:00
519 Church St., Room 201
Topic: Canada and ISIS
Proposed by: Isabel Foot

What should Canada do?
Who are these people; we`re going to do what to them? Why?
Is it still oil?
Beheadings/ 9-11
Shock and Awe
Are the media readying us again for war with the Arabs?
Where do you see this going?
What should Canada do?

HAT Forum: IQ

HAT Forum
Saturday, September 6, 11:00-1:00
519 Church St., Room 304

Proposed by Gary Higgins

0. Are IQs rising? falling?
1. Are intelligent people necessarily more socially conscious? better humanists?
2. Would it be desirable to artificially boost IQ or intelligence with eugenics, stem cell research, GMOs, drugs and chemicals, or mechanical devices?
3. Could advertising, television, and modern conveniences (i.e. computers and apps and devices) contribute to decreasing or increasing IQ?
4. Is consent required for IQ testing? Could a person, or the parent of a child, refuse permission for these tests? Who has access to these records?

Clergy Project, September 27

Due to unforeseen circumstances Catherine Dunphy's talk is cancelled, with apologies for the late notice.

HAT's next monthly speaker will be
Catherine Dunphy
speaking about&nbsp
The Clergy Project
Saturday, September 27th, 1:30-3:00 (note change of date)
OISE (252 Bloor St. W.), Room 3-311

Speaker: Catherine Dunphy - A humanist, atheist and former Roman Catholic student chaplain, Catherine is a founding member of The Clergy Project and former Executive Director. She is the Operations Manager for Rational Doubt, a blog on Patheos –,  and she is currently writing a book about the founding of The Clergy Project and her experience of losing her faith in seminary.
Topic: The purpose of The Clergy Project is to provide a safe haven for active and former professional clergy/religious leaders who do not hold supernatural beliefs. It originated from a growing awareness of the presence of these professional clergy and a concern about their dilemma as they moved beyond faith. Catherine’s talk will be of interest to anyone who faces or has faced a similar dilemma. 

HAT newsletter for download

The old URL that HAT has been using for archives and downloads is temporarily not working. Archived materials will not be lost permanently, but in the meantime, the most recent (summer 2014) newsletter can be downloaded instead from this link. Our apologies for any confusion.

HAT Forum: Media and Prejudice

HAT Forum
Saturday 30 August 2014, 11:00-1:00
519 Community Centre, 519 Church St.
Topic: Media and Prejudice
Proposed by: Cecilia Rayo

How do you think the media has portrayed visible minorities when they participate in an event that is perceived negatively?

What are the effects of this portrayal of visible minorities on the minds of children?

How do you as a humanist fight against prejudice?

Do you think that the media has evolved in the way they portray visible minorities?  If yes how?

HAT Forum: Suicide and Humanism

HAT Forum
Saturday, August 23, 11:00-1:00
519 Church St., Room 201

Topic: Suicide and Humanism
Proposed by: Richard Dowsett
  • What emotions do humanists experience when they think about suicide?
  • Does a humanist philosophy allow for suicide as a legitimate life choice under certain circumstances? What circumstances?
  • What consequences would this philosophy have within the greater society if it were the predominant one?
  • Whatever our thoughts on suicide, are they consistent with our thoughts on other life/death issues such as capital punishment, abortion, euthanasia?

Catholic schools force students to study religion despite court order

From today's Globe and Mail:

Catholic schools in Ontario are requiring students to take religious courses despite a recent court decision that ruled they can’t be forced to attend.

In multiple correspondences reviewed by The Globe and Mail, Catholic school board officials from across the province have denied requests from Catholic high-school students that they be excused from religious studies on the basis that their parents are Catholic school ratepayers.

All of those students requested the exemptions for academic reasons, in hopes of spending more time on courses important to university applications and apprenticeship programs. But the boards contend that Catholic students aren’t eligible for the exemption because they aren’t eligible to attend public schools.

For the full story:

HAT Forum: Evil in a Humanist Worldview

HAT Forum
Date: Saturday, August 16, 2014
Time: 11:00-1:00
Location: 519 Church St., Room 201

Topic: The Concept of Evil in a Humanist Worldview
Proposed by: Moses Klein

Do humanists recognize such a thing as evil? How does a humanist understanding of it differ from a theological understanding?

HAT Forum: Remembering War

Hat Forum:  Remembering War
Date: Saturday, August 9, 2014 at 11:00 - 1:00
Location: 519 Church St.   Room 201
Topic: The experience of our remembering
Proposed by: Bill Kennedy
Remembering whom? Can we say something about the quality of our remembering?
What affect is amplifying our individual remembering?  our collective remembering?
How do we ritually mark the deaths of participants? Their service?
Who is there at the ritual? Who is not there? So what?

HAT Forum: The Intrinsic Value of a Human Being

Date: Saturday 2 August, 11:00-1:00
Location: 519 Church St., Room 201
Proposed by: Cecilia Rayo

The intrinsic value of a human being is said to be the same for all individuals, irrespective of their race, nationality, age, education, profession, health, behavior,  usefulness for someone or contribution to the society. 

Do you agree with this principle? Explain your position.

Do you think that Western societies follow this principle?

In which situations do you think this principle is applied and in which is not?

HAT Forum: Human Aggressivity

HAT Forum: Human Aggressivity
Date: Saturday, July 26, 2014 at 11:00-1:00
Location: 519 Church St.  Room 201
Topic: A better way to think about human aggressivity.
Proposed by: Bill Kennedy

The problem. Is human warring cruelty inevitable? Why?  or  Why not? – in our common sense style of wondering. Joseph D. Lichtenberg’s suggestion of a motivational systems theory will be lightly brushed as a base for my own hope of a ‘no’ answer to our question.

HAT Forum: The Good Life and Humanism 2.0

Date: Saturday, July 19, 11:00-1:00
Location: 519 Church St. Room 201 (note new room number)
Topic: The Good Life and Humanism 2.0
Proposed by: Jody Perrin

1)    What are some of the qualities, goods, values and relationships that you choose to be part of a “Good Life”?
2)    In what ways might our society or culture contribute to our creating a “Good Life” for ourselves?
3)    In what ways might our own Humanist Association encourage our living a “Good Life”?

Humanism and Defining the Good Life

HAT Forum 
Date: Saturday, July 12, 2014
Time: 11:00-1:00
Location:  519 Church St
Proposed by Eric Kronlachner
Submitted by Isabel Foot

Topic: humanism and defining the good life

Humanism as a  practice to get along with your fellowman?  What is fair? 

HAT Forum: Pipelines

Date: Saturday, July 5th, 11:00-1:00
Place: 519 Church St.
Topic: Are the proposed pipelines a pipe dream, or could they become reality?
Proposed by: Erik Krohnlachner

HAT Forum: First Nations names in sports

Date: Saturday, June 28, 11:00-1:00
Location: OISE, 252 Bloor St. W., Room 2-198. Note change in location.
Topic: First Nations names in sports
Proposed by: Moses Klein

Is the use of team names based on native peoples offensive? Why or why not? Are there circumstances in which you would find it acceptable? Must teams with native-based names use stereotypical imagery? In what way is a name like the Florida State Seminoles different from the Notre Dame Fighting Irish?

The Forum will return to the 519 on July 5th.

HAT Forum: Trinity Western Law School

HAT Forum
Saturday, June 21, 11:00-1:00
OISE (252 Bloor St. W.) Room 2-198
Note: The Forum returns to OISE for June 21-28 only. In July it will be back at 519 Church St.
Proposed by: Gary Higgins

Trinity Western University students must sign a strict Christian covenant governing behaviour, including abstaining from sexual intimacy "that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman."
A special B.C. Law Society vote was called after critics objected to Trinity Western University's covenant, which forbids all students and staff from engaging in sexual relationships outside of marriage between a man and woman. (Trinity Western University)

Question: Should the Trinity Western University be accredited across Canada; in light of their policy binding all their students from engaging in premarital sex?

Book Club: Nomad

HAT Book Club meeting
Saturday, July 5th, 2:30
Nomad, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Location: Fox and Fiddle, 280 Bloor St. W., back room

The Toronto Public Library has 100 copies in stock.
"In her powerful new memoir, the #1 bestselling author ofInfideltells the stirring story of her search for a new life as she tries to reconcile her Islamic past with her passionate adherence to democracy and Western values. A unique blend of personal narrative and reportage, moving, engaging, wryly funny at times,Nomadgives us an inside view of her battle for equality in the face of considerable odds.

Ayaan captured the world's attention with Infidel, the eye-opening memoir of her childhood in Africa and Saudi Arabia, and her escape to Holland en route to a forced marriage in Canada. Nomad is the story of what happened after the Dutch director with whom she made a documentary about the domestic abuse of Muslim women was murdered by a radical Islamist and death threats forced her into hiding; of her bid to start a new life in America; of her renewed contact with her family on her father's death; and of her attempts to live by her adopted principles. With deep understanding, and through vivid anecdotes, and observations of people, cultures, and the political debacles that are engulfing the world, she takes us with her on an illuminating, unforgettable journey."

HAT Forum, June 14: Ontario Election

Date: Saturday June 14, 2014, 11:00 - 1:00
Topic: Ontario Election- What have we learned?
Proposed by: Isabel Foot
Location: 519 Church Street Community Centre, 3rd Floor (NEW)
What are your thoughts about the Ontario election? Did events change your feelings about any of the parties? What did you think about the scripted messages? Where do we go from here?

The Science of Shakespeare (talk by Dan Falk)

The Humanist Association of Toronto presents
"The Science of Shakespeare"
by Dan Falk, HAT Humanist of the Year for 2013
Saturday, June 21, 2013, 1:30-3:00 PM
Location: OISE (252 Bloor St. W.), Room 4-414

William Shakespeare lived at a remarkable time -- a period we now recognize as the beginning of the Scientific Revolution. New ideas about the human body, the earth and the universe were transforming Western thought. Award-winning journalist Dan Falk will explore Shakespeare's interest in the scientific discoveries of his time -- asking what he knew, when he knew it and how that knowledge is reflected in his work.

Dan Falk has written for Smithsonian, New Scientist, Astronomy, Sky & Telescope, The Walrus and many other publications, and is the author of two previous popular science books, In Search of Time and Universe on a T-Shirt. He has been a regular contributor to "Ideas" on CBC Radio, and has won several international awards for his radio documentaries. He lives in Toronto.

All are welcome **** Free admission

HAT Forum: Do conservative values conflict with humanist values?

Date: Saturday, June 7, 2014, 11:00-1:00
Topic: Is humanism compatible with traditional conservative values?
Proposed by: Richard Dowsett
Location: 519 Church St. Community Centre, 3rd floor (NOTE NEW LOCATION)

How does someone who is politically and perhaps socially conservative reconcile these values with their humanist principles to see themselves as representing both philosophies?
Conservative generally describes the values of someone that believes there are important facets of the present or past that need to be "conserved" against change. Many of the HAT principles are specifically about change (Freedom of inquiry, valuing gaining knowledge, creativity, acknowledging fallibility). Can you commit to conservative and change simultaneously?
The conservative worldview sees humans as powerful but also tragically flawed with natural tendencies toward greed, laziness and self-interest. Is the humanist worldview essentially optimistic about human nature or is this more a function of the individual practitioner?

​Are we ready to work together for our humanism​​ with others of both conservative values and liberal​​ values without judgment or exclusion?

HAT Forum: Some questions about our Forum process

HAT Forum
Saturday, May 31, 2014, 11:00-1:00
OISE, Rooms 2-281 and 2-289
Topic: Some questions about our Forum process
Proposed by: Jody Perrin

1) How do we encourage courteous and respectful exchange of ideas and opinions?
2) How might we avoid persuasion and enrich our understandings?
3)  What do we mean by listening seriously to each other? 

Note: The first two HAT Forums in June will be at the 519 Community Centre, 519 Church St. near Wellesley. Stay tuned for more information about subsequent Forums.

Humanist of the Year, 2013: Dan Falk

Humanist of the Year:  Dan Falk, Science Journalist
with Tanya Long, Program Coordinator.
April, 2014.

HAT Forum: Ontario Election

HAT Forum
Saturday, May 17, 2014
OISE, Rooms 2-198, 2-199
Proposed by: Moses Klein

What are your thoughts and feelings about the Ontario election? How will you vote? What issues do you want the parties, leaders or candidates to talk about more? Are there events in the past 3 years that have changed your opinions of any of the political parties?

Change of Location! HAt Annual General Meeting May 3, 11am

Date: Saturday, May 3
Time: 11:00am to 1:00pm

The U of T Multi-Faith Centre, 569 Spadina Avenue, 2nd Floor
at Willcocks Avenue, 250m south of Harbord Street

TTC access: via the 510 Spadina Streetcar
Parking: SW corner of Classic Ave. & Huron St. (150m away)

Agenda Items include:
•    presentation of the Humanist of the Year Award
•    discussion of future projects
•    election of Steering Committee members for 2014
Refreshments will be served.

Hat Forum, Sat. April 26, 11am OISE "Trigger warnings"

HAT Forum
Saturday 26 April 2014
Topic: Trigger warnings
Proposed by: Moses Klein

A trigger warning is a notice preceding any kind of media that the content might contain a trauma trigger for some people. Are they a good idea? In what contexts? Are there contexts in which they are inappropriate? One use that has recently been much debated in our media is in a university syllabus: How do we feel about that?

HAT forum Sat 19 April, OISE 11am

HAT Forum, Saturday 19 April
Time: 11:00-1pm
Location: OISE, Rooms 11-200, 11-204
Facilitator:  "M.A".

"Although there is, more often than not, agreement that we as humans have, by nature, such attributes as ‘aggressive’, we, at the same time, also agree that we ‘should NOT’ be aggressive, or at least that our aggression should NOT result in violence. Culture, in the form of laws and customs, is (perhaps) designed to provide for such channels, i.e. for what we ‘should BE’.

Our ‘consciousness’ (apparently distinguishing us from other animals) of what we are, on the one hand, and what we perceive ourselves to actually be, on the other hand, enable us to ponder that which we are not but which we CAN be. The question remains, however, whether we really can (successfully) engage in an enterprise of becoming or whether any 'becoming what we are not' is but an illusion and we are doomed to accept what we are as animals.

1. Can we intelligently (or otherwise) design ourselves as individuals and/or our society as our collective ‘self’, to change from what we are towards what we think we ought to be?’ (‘transhumanism’ ? :) or do we have to accept ourselves as what we are?
2. Does our consciousness of what we ARE necessarily encourage us to BECOME what we are not?
3. Does accepting ourselves as what we are mean embracing Social Darwinism?
4. If we agree that we should become something that we are not, how can we as Humanists know what that thing OUGHT TO BE without a belief in any divine revelation (a God-/god-sent plan)?

HAT BOOK GROUP, May 10 "The map that changed the world"

The Next HAT book group meeting:

Date: Saturday, May 10
Location:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street West
TIME: 2:30-4pm
BOOK:  The map that changed the world: William Smith and the birth of modern geology
by Winchester, Simon.

3 holds / 19 copies (plus e-book and audio book in Library)

In 1793, William Smith, an engineer and canal digger, concluded that rocks were arranged in layers and that each layer contained different fossils unique to it. This was a monumental discovery, as it contradicted existing church beliefs, and it would become the foundation for the science of geology. Smith spent the next 20 years creating the world's first geological map.

Still a thing of beauty, this sizeable representation (8' 6') of the underside of England from Wales to the Thames remains a testament to Smith's persistence. Tragically, he did not realize any significant income from his map, and four years after its publication he was sent to debtor's prison. Upon his release, he remained virtually homeless and unemployed for ten years. Not until 1831 was he finally recognized for his great contribution when he was awarded the first Wollaston Medal and given a small lifetime pension by the King.

HAT Forum, Sat. April 12, 11 am, OISE

HAT Forum , Saturday April 12, 11 AM
Location:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street West
Topic: Is man an aggressive animal?
Facilitator:  Bryant Brown

1. What qualities constitute the basic nature of man?
2. Is aggression a natural or acquired characteristic?
3. What precipitates aggression?  What precipitates passivity??
4.What is more aggressive, individuals, families, nations?
5. Is aggression the cause or effect of our economic system (i.e. capitalism)?

HAT Forum, Sat April 5 OISE

What is a Nation?
HAT Forum
Saturday 5 April 2014
Location:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street West
Time: 11am -1pmProposed by: Moses Klein

What is a nation? Is nationalism a sentiment with any value to you? How do we understand developing events in Ukraine and in Quebec in this light?

HAT FORUM: Sat March 29, 11 am HAT principles, Part 2

Date:  Sat March 29, 11am - 1pm
Location:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street W.
Topic:  HAT Humanist Principles discussion, Part 2
Last week we lovingly kicked about the HAT principles with some good but general discussion.  What emerged from the discussion were some specific questions about the current principles and some ideas of how they could be improved.  Improvements were related to:
  • how they could be made more clear
  • how they could be made more appealing to new humanists or potential humanists
Some questions raised for the sake of improvement were:
  • Principle vii) melds several concepts of human dignity, respect, responsibility, community, ethics and freedom into one statement. Could/should this be broken out into more than one principle and moved to the top of this list to give it more weight and importance?
  • How could the principles be altered to give them more 'heart'?  Is there enough humanity in our humanist principles? What about empathy?
  • Where is the link between how and what we think (knowledge, reason, creativity) to human ethics?  Should there be a linking principle (e.g. reduction of suffering/harm or duty of care)?
Please come to the Forum with some specific new or revised principles that you think would make HAT's principles better in some way.  Be prepared to say how this change would benefit HAT as an organization or benefit its members.
N.B. The statement of our current 7 principles is posted below, and can also be found on the HAT website under the tab ABOUT HAT


HAT Constitution: Section 3 - Declaration of Principles

(i)    Freedom of Inquiry: Every individual should be free to inquire into any and all areas of thought, to explore, to challenge, question or doubt. Without freedom of inquiry, we lose the ability to improve the human condition.
(ii)    The Use of Reason: Reason provides a common standard against which we can test our perceptions. Without reason there is no valid tool for making judgments.
(iii)    Knowledge: The only thing that can be called knowledge is that which is firmly grounded in human understanding and empirical verification. Without human comprehension and verification we lose our connection with the natural world around us.
(iv)    Creativity: Human creativity is essential to the ability to solve problems, expand knowledge, and fulfill our cultural needs.
(v)    Fallibility: Human knowledge and human ethics have changed over time and will continue to change. Without acknowledging fallibility we risk descent into dogma.
(vi)    The Natural World: The physical world is the world in which our ethics must operate, rather than in any imagined Utopian societies or afterlife. Because the physical world is the only one of which we have empirical knowledge, it is irrational to sacrifice benefits in this world for supposed gains in imaginary ones.
(vii)    Human Ethics: Ethical decisions should be made in the context of real people, real situations, real human needs and aspirations and the consideration of real consequences. Humanism combines personal liberty with social responsibility. It affirms the dignity of every person, the right of the individual to the greatest possible freedom compatible with the rights of others, and the need for community. Without this context we risk the worst excesses of ideology.

HAT Forum, Sat March 22, OISE "HAT's Principles Revisited"

Please post the following on the website for this week:

Room 2-198 at OISE
DATE:  Sat March 22, 11-1pm
LOCATION:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street West, Room 2-198
Topic: HAT's Principles Revisited
Proposer: Richard Dowsett

In 2004, HAT revised the Principles that appear in our constitution.  Ten years on we have some members expressing dissatisfaction with those principles and new members clamoring to know what are principles are. It is vital to have a balanced set of principles that reflect the who, why, what and how of HAT's humanism to energize membership, galvanize group cohesiveness, mold community and stimulate action.
This Forum will discuss the existing principles and explore those of some other humanist groups to better understand what humanism means to ourselves and to others.  We may even explore the value of having principles at all in a group that eschews dogma.
Below are several links that may stimulate your thinking on this subject.

From the IHEU

HAT Monthly Meeting: Early notice for June 21, "The Science of Shakespeare", Dan Falk

Humanist Association of Toronto Monthly Speaker Meeting
Saturday, June 21, 2014
1:30 – 3:00 pm
OISE, 252 Bloor St. West, Room tbd
Speaker: Dan Falk
Topic: “What Did Shakespeare Know About Scientific Developments of His Time?” 

The Science of Shakespeare by Dan Falk

William Shakespeare lived at a remarkable time – a period we now recognize as the first phase of the Scientific Revolution. New ideas about the human body, the earth, and the universe were transforming Western thought – and yet “Shakespeare” and “science” are rarely uttered in the same breath. But as award-winning journalist Dan Falk has found, a reassessment is at hand. In this illustrated talk, Falk will explore Shakespeare’s interest in the scientific discoveries of his time – asking what he knew, when he knew it, and how that knowledge is reflected in his work.  Copies of his new book, "The Science of Shakespeare," will be available for purchase and signing.

Gail McCabe to appear on Zoomer TV, March 17 - INVITATION TO ATTEND taping MARCH 12!

Gail McCabe to appear on Zoomer TV March 17

Gail McCabe, spokesperson for the Ontario Humanist Society and the Humanist Association of Toronto, will appear on The Zoomer, as part of a panel debating the concept of the “Afterlife.” The show includes interviews and panel discussions focusing on topics of interest to Zoomers (the 50+ set). The program is hosted by Conrad Black and Denise Donlon.

The show airs on a weekly basis on Mondays at 9:00 pm. Gail will appear on the March 17th edition

The taping of the Zoomer show on March 12th will take place at 64 Jefferson Avenue in Liberty Village (3 blocks east of Dufferin south of King Street). You are all invited to attend and to join the audience for a cocktail and canape get-together at 3:30 or 3:45 pm that day.
From Zoomer TV:
Despite a rise in secularism, 70% of Canadians (63% of Zoomers 55+) believe in life after death. The question of what happens to us after corporeal death is a hot topic with a glut of media detailing near death experiences as well as contact with guardian angels

in times of duress. But what is behind this new compulsion to believe?

And how does this belief differ from traditional belief systems? However comforting it might be, some traditionalists criticize “new agers” for adopting a convenient spirituality that isn’t subject to an omniscient authority figure

But, even the Vatican is taking heed, appointing Fr. Renzo Lavator as its “angelologist”. He says angels are “back in fashion” thanks to New Age religions but forget old images of cherubic, harp-playing winged beings. Today’s angel is merely a shard of light, not so much seen as felt.

Still, exactly what happens after we expire is hotly debated among true believers, new age spiritualists, agnostics and atheists. And, if the afterlife does exist, it’s not clear what those on the other side are trying to tell us, if anything at all.

Wherever we stand on the belief-o-meter, one thing’s for certain: death and what happens after can have a profound impact on how we live our lives today.

Free Local event March 24: What are the pros and cons of expanding the Island airport?

What are the pros and cons of expanding the Island... Tickets, Toronto - Eventbrite

This may interest HAT members: a FREE local event, at Duke of York, from Why Should I Care.

On March 24, Paul Bedford, an urban planner and former chair of
Metrolinx will take us through some of the pros and cons of an expanded
airport. Join us on Monday, March 24 at the Duke of York (39 Prince
Arthur Ave), ask your questions and share your thoughts about an
Expanded Island Airport. If you just want to sit, listen, and have a
drink, that’s fine too.

As always, the event is free. Please RSVP using our Eventbrite page. Doors open 7:00, discussion starts at 7:30.  Please note, this event  will be filmed.

"Toronto is engaged in a passionate debate over its support of an expanded Toronto Island Airport. Citizens of our fair city are posting lawn signs in support, or against the proposed changes.

Porter has plans to increase the airport runway length and operate Canadian jets that are comparable in noise to their current turbo props. This would continue the economic growth in the downtown core and would make Toronto a more attractive hub for travelers by reducing the time it takes to fly in and out of the city's core. Opponents would like to maintain the current state of the airport citing environmental reasons and unwanted impacts to Toronto’s waterfront should the expansion occur."  - more info on this group.

March 8 is International Women's Day. Science For Peace presents a Free event March 9.

event page:
Celebrate International Women's Day (one day later) with a Science for Peace panel discussion entitled “International Women’s Day (2014) – Revisiting Violence Against Women: Focus Turkey” to be held on Sunday, March 9, 2014, at Bahen Centre, 40
St. George Street
 , Room 1170 between 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. The panelists
are Professors: Aysan Sev’er, Sedef Arat Koc, Idil Atak, and (4th TBA).  Prof. Mustafa Koc will kindly moderate the event. 
"When it comes to gender equality, the World Economic Forum ranks Turkey 127th amongst 136 countries. In the last 3 years, more than 500 women have been murdered due to male jealousy and intolerance for women’s self-determination. This co ntinues to rise and leaves no hope for the girls of the next generation.
In 2006 the Turkish Government pledged to protect women and in 2010 created their National Action Plan for Combating Domestic Violence Against Women. Women are still unable to get the help that they deserve, while the legal institutions continue to favor their murderers.
The panel will give their views on the implications of practices in gender equality
and violence against women."

HAT forum Sat. March 8, What is HAT's social role?

HAT Forum, Sat. March 8
Time:  11am - 1pm
Location:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street West
Facilitator:  Moses Klein

1.1.    What are the possible avenues to be explored to make the social weight of Humanists felt by a larger fraction of the population and what role can HAT play in this?
1.2.    Should HAT have made itself visible in the media in response to the controversy over the York student who did not want to work with women? In what other situations should HAT have had a more prominent presence in the media?"
1.3.    How can HAT attract a larger number of members and participants, especially younger ones, to HAT's weekly forums and monthly meetings?

HAT Monthly Meeting, Sat March 22, 1:30 pm Dorothy Rosenberg, Toxic Trespass

Humanist Association of Toronto Monthly Speaker Meeting
Saturday, March 22, 2014
1:30 – 3:00 pm
OISE, 252 Bloor St. West, Room 4-414
Speaker: Dorothy Goldin Rosenberg
Topic: Toxic Trespass – a film about health and the environment
Dorothy Goldin Rosenberg is an executive producer of the award-winning NFB film Toxic Trespass, an investigation into the effects of the chemical soup around us. Filmmaker Barri Cohen starts with her 10-year-old daughter, whose blood carries carcinogens like benzene and DDT. Then Cohen heads out to Windsor and Sarnia, Canadian toxic hotspots with clusters of deadly diseases such as respiratory illnesses, leukemia and brain tumours. She journeys into toxic nightmares all too common in industrialized countries and meets passionate activists working for change and doctors and scientists who see evidence of links between environmental pollution and health problems. And she learns how quickly barriers can go up when anyone asks questions about these links. A moving and empowering documentary, Toxic Trespass is essential viewing for anyone concerned about the effects of pollutants on our health – and our very DNA. Join us as Dorothy Goldin Rosenberg leads us through a screening of the film followed by discussion and Q&A.    
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.