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 EVENTS | GTA EVENTS | GTA NEWS | HUMANIST NEWS | HAT NEWSLETTER | ETHICAL ACTIONS | UNIV of TORONTO EVENTS

HAT Forum
Sat June 25th 2016
11 a.m. To 1 pm
OISE, 256 Bloor Street West Rm 8-201
Topic:"The Hounding of Vladimir Putin"
Proposer: Isobel Foot

Sometimes it seems the military class has to be constantly pushing for war with Russia. Constantly threatening.  One thing, it probably makes some people a lot of money!
In the Middle East, Russia is seen as the enemy when it supports the beleaguered Assad. We want him out - I’m not sure why it’s our business. In my opinion Putin has been sincere in trying to help that bleeding region.  We have a hard time to accept anything he does as good (e.g. dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons.
Now we’re being asked to build up NATO forces around Russia. The US and all are continually fomenting color revolutions and making war to challenge Russian influence.  They impose economic sanctions, rag about human rights.  Why? 

HAT Forum
Sat June 18th 2016
11 a.m. To 1 pm
519 Church Street Room tba or 304
Topic:"What, if anything, is the Self"
Proposer:Moses Klein

We'll examine several philosophical conceptions about the Self. 
Do they make sense to us? 
How do we understand the Self? 
Is it a useful concept?
What implications does it have for our ethics? 
Has anything that you have learned changed your idea of the Self?

Some summary statements of philosophical positions for this Forum will be prepared.

Please Note that:
* The June 25th Forum is moved to OISE.
* The July 2nd Forum is cancelled.
* On July 9th we will return to 519.

HAT Forum
Sat June 11th 2016
11 a.m. To 1 pm
519 Church Street Room 303 or 304
Topic:"Deep listening…. Reconciliation with inner self"
Proposer:Jody Perrin

       There are some responsibilities as a human being in circle of life in front of other people, nature, animals to have a better planet in communication with each other, yet the first step of achieving to these goals is deep listening to our inner self and it is a process of detachment of our being from any title outside that introduce us in our communications

1) Listening begins with taking notice or becoming aware of our own needs, feelings, thoughts, sensations and stories.
What are some of the ways we can listen to or become aware of ourselves?

2) Conversation involves us in listening to others.
Share some of your ways of listening to an other?

How can you show the other that you have listened and heard them?

HAT Forum
Sat June 4th 2016
11 a.m. To 1 pm
519 Church Street Room 303 or 304
Topic: “The State Apology"
Facilitator: Moses Klein

Thinking about examples of political leaders who have, on behalf of their country, apologized for past actions.

1. What functions do or should such apologies serve?
2. When is a public apology appropriate? When is it not appropriate?
3. When are apologies enough? When are apologies not enough? What more needs to be done?
4. On May 18th, Justin Trudeau made two widely reported apologies in the House of Commons. At 3 PM he apologized for Canada turning away the Komagata Maru in 1914; at 6 PM he apologized for his role in the now-infamous altercation on the House floor. How are these two apologies different?

A few examples of public apologies to consider:
(a) Justin Trudeau’s apology for the Komagata Maru on May 18th.
(b) Stephen Harper’s 2008 apology for the residential schools.
(c) The 1988 apologies of Ronald Reagan and Brian Mulroney for the internment of Japanese-Americans and Japanese-Canadians respectively during WWII.
(d) Bill Clinton’s 1998 apology, during a visit to Africa, for the slave trade.
(e) Barack Obama’s 2009 apology for Jim Crow.
(f) David Cameron’s 2010 recognition of Bloody Sunday as “unjustified and unjustifiable”.
(g) Gordon Brown’s 2009 apology for the treatment of Alan Turing.
(h) Nestor Kirchner’s 2004 apology for Argentina’s Dirty War.
(i) F.W. de Klerk’s apology in 1996 to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for apartheid.
(j) Konrad Adenauer’s apology for the Holocaust.
(k) Shinzo Abe’s 2007 apology to comfort women.
(l) Kevin Rudd’s 2008 apology for the treatment of aboriginal people.
(m) John Paul II’s 1992 apology for the persecution of Galileo.

HAT Forum
Sat May 28th 2016
11 a.m. To 1 pm
519 Church Street Room 303 or 304
Topic: “Do we need another Enlightenment?"
Proposer: Cecilia Rayo

Our political system is unable to respond to looming economic and environmental crises that present a clear and present danger to our way of life, and instead of thoughtful planning and responsible leadership we get demagoguery, posturing, and theatre.
Rational thought cannot prevail in the current social and media environment, where elections are won by appealing to voters’ hearts rather than their minds. The rapid-fire pace of modern politics, the hypnotic repetition of daily news items and even the multitude of visual sources of information all make it difficult for the voice of reason to be heard.

1. Do you agree with this view of modern politics? If you do so, why?

2. Do you think that the first Enlightenment was successful in its predicted outcome that the reasonable individuals could construct a new rational society predicated on liberty, equality and brotherhood? Explain your answer.

3. The public opinion battlefield is the hert not the head. Do you agree with this statement? Explain….

4. How do you think that we could restore sanity to the politics of this world?

HAT Forum
Sat May 21st 2016
11 a.m. To 1 pm
519 Church Street Room 303
Topic: “Building Bridges? Humanism and Religion"
Proposer: Richard Dowsett

- Do you engage personally with religious people about faith issues, and if so how?

- How engaged do think the Humanist movement should be with organized religions?


- When, if ever, is it appropriate to ridicule religious beliefs?


- What religious practices or emotions should Humanism seek to replicate in a non-theistic context?


- One of Humanism's objectives is to foster human flourishing. Would it pose a dilemma for Humanists if it could 
be scientifically proven that people are happier and healthier if they have religious beliefs? 


HAT Forum
Sat May 7th 2016
11 a.m. To 1 pm
519 Church Street Room 304
Topic: “Ideas from other countries that you would like to see in Canada"
Proposer: Debora Jenkins

*The idea for this topic came from Michael Moore's recent film, Where to Invade Next, in which Moore goes to other countries in search of good ideas to bring back to the United States. The movie is not playing in Toronto anymore but you can watch Michael Moore discuss many of the ideas of the film on YouTube on the Stephen Colbert show and on Talks at Google.

1. What do you think of the following ideas mentioned in the film? 

Portugal: legalized possession of any and all drugs 15 years ago
Norway: all prison sentences capped at 21 years
Italy: mandatory 7 to 8 week paid vacations 
France: superior quality, healthy student lunches
Slovenia: free university
Rwanda: quotas for women in government
Iceland: quotas for women (and men) on boards in companies (40% for both genders)
Germany: a thriving middle class of well-paid workers
Finland: no homework

2. What ideas, be they cultural, political, social, edible, aesthetic, or economic, would you like to bring to Canada? From what countries? Why?

Off the top of my head, here are a few of mine:

Sweden: the Nordic Model for prostitution (already here but under threat)
Pittsburgh: beautiful, creative bike racks as public art
New Orleans: Beignets!
Washington DC: free museum admission
Paris: a strong sense of style and design
London: plentiful wrought iron fences and railings 
Most countries in the world: better social skills/closer family and community ties
Etc.

Yours?

4. What are the drawbacks to some of these ideas?

5. Why do we sometimes seem to be reluctant to adopt ideas from other places?

6. What Canadian ideas do you think other countries would benefit from?

7. Any ideas we don't want? Like the American political system :)

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.

Humanists for Social and Environmental Action: URGENT: Email Minister of Immigration McCallum to stop next week's litigation 

Humanists for Social and Environmental Action: URGENT: Email Minister of Immigration McCallum to stop next week's litigation 

The Canadian government is going ahead with  litigation that was initiated by the Harper government against U.S. Iraq War resisters. The Federal Court hearings are scheduled for April 5 and 6.

In light of McCallum's announcement today sponsoring more refugees, it is important to state opposition to the Harper Government's attacks on US war resisters.  The War Resisters Support Campaign is asking for your help:
  • We are asking every supporter to immediately email Minister of Immigration John McCallum,  at minister@cic.gc.ca and john.mccallum@parl.gc.ca (model message below)
  • Under your name, please include city and province
  • Please cc Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca
  • Please also bcc the War Resisters Support Campaign at wrsctoronto@gmail.com
Here is a model email message you can copy and paste into your message (or feel free to personalize it) --
SUBJECT: U.S. Iraq War resisters – Stop litigation initiated by Harper government
Honourable John McCallum
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Dear Minister McCallum,
I am writing to ask that you immediately cease the litigation initiated  by the former Conservative government against U.S. Iraq War resisters. Our new government should not defend decisions made under the previous  government and re-litigate matters the Court has already found on in  favour of these conscientious objectors. As you know, Canadians  overwhelmingly opposed the Iraq War and the Liberal government under Jean Chrétien made a decision not to participate in it.

The cases to be heard by the Federal Court on April 5 and 6 should be settled, and the matters sent back to be re-determined by new  immigration officers.

I thank you for your consideration and look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

cc: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

HAT Forum
Sat March 26th 2016
11 a.m. To 1 pm
519 Church Street Room 304
Topic “ I fear those who are unemotional, and I solicit emotional response whenever I can."
Proposer: Jody Perrin

From article by Jeanette Armstrong in Yes! Magazine:

http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/spiritual-uprising/i-stand-with-you-against-the-disorder/

1. What is your feeling about this phrase in Jeanette’s closing paragraph?

2. Is there a connection to her desire to personalize every thing and not to be “objective” about anything?

3. How important might these thoughts be?

4. How could we include them in our way of looking at and acting in life’s journey?
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.