The Humanist Association of Toronto provides a focus of activities and discussion for Humanists in the Toronto area. Please note: HAT events are open to the public, and views expressed do not necessarily represent the official views of the Humanist Association of Toronto. For all public statements, educational events, media enquiries, please contact the webeditor, who will forward your enquiry to our Spokesperson.
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The Humanist Forum meets Saturday morning 11am-1pm
The Monthly Meeting the 2nd or 3rd Saturday at 1:30pm (TBD)
The Steering Committee meets 1st Wednesday, 7pm
The Book Group meets monthly.
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HAT Forum
Sat April 30th 2016
11 a.m. To 1 pm
519 Church Street Room 304
Topic: “Trump and the Media"
Proposer: Andrew Smith

Trump and the Media

(1)        Trump has received what some people would say is a disproportionate amount of media coverage in relation to the other candidates.[i]  Given this fact, what could be causing the media to give him so much coverage?
            –He brings in the ratings (experience with reality TV)?
            –The media wants to promote his campaign?
            –The media wants to discredit his campaign?

(2)        Survey data of the party affiliations of most reporters in the Unites States shows a preponderance of Democrats to Republicans (28% vs. 7%).[ii]  Why is this?  The parent companies of major media outlets also donate millions of dollars to both Democratic and Republican candidates.[iii]  Given this ideological slant and potential conflict of interest, is it reasonable to worry about systemic bias?


Immigration and Multiculturalism

(3)        Data indicates that there are between 7 and 22 million illegal immigrants presently in the United States, with the overwhelming majority coming from Mexico and other parts of Latin America.[iv]  73 percent of households headed by immigrants (both legal and illegal) from Mexico and Central America use at least one welfare program[v] and overwhelmingly identify as Democrat (by margins of 5:1 over identifying as Republican).[vi]  In contrast, 30 percent of native households use at least one welfare program.[vii]
            In Europe, mass immigration from North Africa, the Middle East, and sub-Saharan Africa is a topic of growing concern for many people.  For example, Sweden now has the highest rate of rapes in the West[viii] and has at least 55 “no-go zones” in the country,[ix] regions where the police are reluctant to venture into.
           
Is mass immigration from non-Western cultures compatible with a democratic welfare state, given the facts above?  What has driven Western governments to adopt policies of mass immigration from non-Western cultures since about the 1960s?[x]

(4)        What is multiculturalism?  What assumptions underlie support or opposition to it?
            Conventional definition:  “the preservation of different cultures or cultural identities within a unified society, as a state or nation.[xi]


The Nature of Modern American Politics

(5)        What are the fundamental differences underlying left-wing and right-wing worldviews?  Are Trump’s policies right wing, left wing, or a mixture?
            Some of Trump’s Major Policies:[xii]
            –Compel the Mexican government to pay for the construction of a wall along the border, in exchange for the continuation of remittance payments, visas, and favorable trade terms (tariffs, etc.).
            –Defunding of sanctuary cities, enhanced enforcement of immigration law, ending of birthright citizenship, pause in green card issuance until native unemployment levels improve.
            –Full repeal of Obamacare, decrease barriers to insurance companies operating across state lines, decrease barriers to sale of foreign prescription drugs, require price transparency for all healthcare providers, individual tax deductions for health insurance premium payments.




[i]. http://www.businessinsider.com/donald-trump-media-coverage-chart-2016-3
[ii]. The American Journalist in the Digital Age:  Key Findings, by Lars Willnat & David H. Weaver.
[iii]. http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2010/08/news-corps-million-dollar-donation/
[iv]. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illegal_immigrant_population_of_the_United_States
[v]. http://cis.org/Welfare-Use-Immigrant-Native-Households
[vi]. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/07/22/are-unauthorized-immigrants-overwhelmingly-democrats/
[vii]. http://cis.org/Welfare-Use-Immigrant-Native-Households
[viii]. http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/5195/sweden-rape
[ix]. https://swedenreport.org/2014/10/29/swedish-police-55-official-no-go-zones/,  https://creepingsharia.wordpress.com/2014/11/07/at-least-55-islamic-no-go-zones-in-sweden/
[x]. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_and_Nationality_Act_of_1965
[xi]. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/multiculturalism
[xii]. https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions

HAT Forum
Sat April 23rd 2016
11 a.m. To 1 pm
519 Church Street Room 304
Topic: “Medically Assisted Dying from a Humanist Perspective"
Proposer: Richard Dowsett

“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.”

The above is Principle (vii) from the HAT Constitution: Section 3 - Declaration of Principles. It seems to be the one most pertinent to the discussion of Medically Assisted Dying (MAD).

Below is a link to the Government’s proposed Bill C-14 “to amend the criminal code in respect of Medical assistance in Dying” and another link to the Special Parliamentary Committee’s report. Let’s discuss the differences between them, whether they are reasonable and how Humanist principles can help guide our thoughts and feelings:

1.    “Advanced directives” were recommended by Committee but are not part of C-14.

2.    MAD for “matures minors” was recommended by Committee but is not part of C-14.

3.    MAD for mental health conditions was recommended by Committee but is not part of C-14.

4.    A 15 day Period of Reflection is part of C-14, against the recommendations of the Committee.

5.    To gain the exemption for MAD, the applicant must “have a grievous and irremediable medical condition” that includes death being “reasonably foreseeable” according to the opinion of the doctor of nurse practitioner. Is this a reasonable condition?

6.    Is it fair to expect medical practitioners to risk a trial, up to 5 years in jail and loss of their medical license every time they conduct a medical procedure because the law is so subjective?



HAT recognizes the valuable contributions of the 519

The Humanist Association of Toronto ("HAT") would like to recognize the contribution made by "the 519",  the 519 Church Street Community Centre, to the City of Toronto, particularly by providing valuable community resources to many organisations, including the Humanist Association of Toronto.

HAT Forum
Sat April 2nd 2016
11 a.m. To 1 pm
519 Church Street Room 304
Topic “Rob Ford: His Impact on Our City"
Proposer: Richard Dowsett

With the passing of councillor and former-Mayor Rob Ford last week many Torontonians have taken the opportunity to look back on his life and assess it’s very many aspects.
In Ford Nation and in many homes across the GTA, Ford was loved as a non-politician, dedicated to his constituents, direct and honest, a champion of the common citizen fighting their cause against bureaucracy and special interests. They saw a great man who cared about his family, coached at his old school and loved the City.
In some sectors, Rob Ford was truly hated. They saw selfish, narcissistic rich kid fighting to retain the privilege for himself and people like him. To them he was a bully who dominated with language and power, an ignoramus who obstructed city government for petty motives and a sad, reckless addict bringing Toronto into mocking and disrepute.
Each side sees the other’s opinions as a conspiracy. Now, in the days after his death, the race is on to sanctify or to vilify. Where will Rob Ford’s place in history lie?
1.    What is your opinion of Rob Ford? Challenge yourself to take up an opinion counter to your current one by thinking where went wrong or, conversely, where he excelled.
2.    In two elections Rob Ford and Doug Ford got over 713,000 votes. What factors were Ford voters responding to? How did the conservative Fords get so many votes in traditionally liberal Toronto?
3.    Was Rob Ford, on balance, a “good person”? Did he have positive ethics? Good Morals? Strong character? Wisdom? Good Judgement? Caring? Empathy?
4.    Did Ford exhibit the characteristics of “a good mayor”?
5.    The Ford Effect: Total number of Voters in 2010 and 2014 jumped up 114K and 166K respectively, election over election, increases far ahead of mere population growth. Can we all credit the Fords for this stimulating effect on Toronto’s democracy?
6.    On a related issue, tradition holds that we don’t “speak ill of the dead”. How do you think and feel about the regard and abeyance of this tradition in the case of Rob Ford?

April 6: Science for Peace: Windows of Opportunity: How Women Seize Peace Negotiations for Political Change

Perhaps of interest to HAT members.  Free program:

Science for Peace: Windows of Opportunity: How Women Seize Peace Negotiations for Political Change
Please join us for a free public lecture on Wednesday April 6th from 7-9pm in Room UC 144 of University College ( 15 King’s College Circle, Toronto, ON M5S 3H7 ) at the University of Toronto’s St George campus:
Dr. Miriam Anderson is Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and Public Administration and a member of the Yeates School of Graduate Studies at Ryerson University. She holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge (2010) in Politics and International Studies, an MA in Political Science (2004) from the University of British Columbia, and a BA in International Relations from the University of British Columbia.

Dr. Anderson researches peace processes, post-conflict reconstruction, and transnationalism in war and peace. She currently holds (as the principal investigator) a SSHRC Insight Development Grant entitled “Sustaining Women’s Gains Made During Peace Negotiations” (2014-2016) and a SSHRC Connection Grant (2014-2015), “Transnational Actors in War and Peace.
Miriam Anderson teaches courses on women, war and peace; global governance; and women and politics.

From 1999-2002, Anderson served as a human rights monitor for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Croatia. During this period she also monitored elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in Croatia for the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). Anderson has also volunteered with grassroots organizations in Nicaragua and El Salvador.
This event is part of a weekly series of talks entitled: “Vital Discussions of Human Security”. Please see www.scienceforpeace.ca/events for details on all of our upcoming events. Please see our YouTube channel for videos from past events.
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.