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 Monthly Speaker
Saturday, October 17, 1:30 – 3:00
OISE, 252 Bloor St. west, Room 8-170
The Syrian Refugee Crisis

Topic: The Syrian Refugee Crisis: What can we do? What should we do?
Speaker: Suzanne Silk Klein is a former university professor and retired provincial civil servant. Much more germane to this talk, she is co-chair of the Congregation Darchei Noam Syrian Refugee Sponsorship Committee, a learning opportunity that has generated a lot of activity lately.  She will give a little background to this Syrian crisis and tell us what she and her group are doing to help make things better. Please join us for an elucidating and hopeful talk.

HAT Forum Saturday Oct 3rd 2015 11:00 - 1:00 at 519 Church Street Rm 304 "Carding or Street Checks - A Humanist Perspective"

HAT Forum
Topic:  “Carding or Street Checks – A Humanist Perspective”
Location: The 519 Community Centre, 519 Church St. north of Wellesley, Rm 304 
Time: 11:00 to 13:00
Proposer: Richard Dowsett
Currently in Toronto, the practice of “Carding” a.k.a. Street Checks, has been suspended pending review of its detrimental effects on the community, possible racism or unconstitutionality and ineffectiveness as a policing tool.

Other jurisdictions (Peel Region, Hamilton) have refused to discontinue it against the advice of their civilian oversight boards, activists and experts (ombudsman, former Chiefs-of-Police and Attorney Generals).

Some facts as per research by The Globe:
  On average, in 2014 police forces had stopped 0.86 per cent of their jurisdiction's 2011 population.
  The majority of police forces that disclosed the length of time they keep records on community members who are stopped and questioned, reported keeping records indefinitely.
  All but two police forces interviewed have no formal procedure in place to guide interactions between officers and community members who are stopped and questioned.
Departing Ontario ombudsman AndrĂ© Marin’s reported that “the detrimental effects of street checks on individuals and the community are simply too great to justify this practice.”

Here is a very informative short video by The Star called “Known to Police” about how carding works:
1.   1. What are the pros and cons of Carding as it has been recently employed in Toronto?
2.   2. What personal or close experience do the members have of carding, if any?
3.   3. According to Humanist principles, on what grounds could carding be criticized? On what grounds could it be upheld?
4.   4. Is there a way to change carding such that the criticisms are properly addressed?
5.   5. Is it reasonable in social questions such as this, to weigh utility versus harm and decide in favour of the weight of evidence or is any harm unacceptable?

HAT Forum
Saturday Sep 26th 2015
11:00 - 1:00 p.m.
519 Church Street Room 304
Topic: Increasing the Responsiveness of Government in Canada

HAT Forum
 Topic: Increasing the Responsiveness of Government in Canada
Location: The 519, 519 Church Street north of Wellesley, Room 304 Time: 11:00 to 1pm
Proposer: Richard Dowsett
- One of the knocks on the current political system has been its lack of responsiveness to the will of the people. Can the use of Ballot Initiatives (as in the State of California) be employed here to increase responsiveness between elections?
- What are the upsides of citizen input via plebiscite, referenda and voter ballot initiatives?
- What problems do you see with them?
- By what criteria would you decide what questions would get on the ballot?
- What questions would you like to see on the ballot for the coming Canadian Federal election?
- Could Ballot Initiatives become a progressive element to speed social change?

HAT Forum: After the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

HAT Forum
Saturday 19 September 2015, 11:00-1:00
519 Church St., Meeting Room #304
Topic: After the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Proposed by: Moses Klein

After Catherine Rodd's talk last week, how do we see Canada's progress in terms of the objectives of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission?

(1) Has the paradigm for relations with aboriginal peoples changed since the days of residential schools?

(2) What can non-aboriginal Canadians do to achieve a more mutually respectful relationship with aboriginal Canadians?

(3) What can aboriginal Canadians offer non-aboriginal Canadians?

(4) What can non-aboriginal Canadians offer aboriginal Canadians?

(5) Are you optimistic about the future of the relationship between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians?

HAT Monthly Speaker
Saturday, September 12, 1:30 – 3:00
OISE, 252 Bloor St. West, Room 4-414
Speaker: Catherine Rodd, Toronto-based video producer

HAT Monthly Speaker
Saturday, September 12, 1:30 – 3:00
OISE, 252 Bloor St. west, Room 4-414
Speaker: Catherine Rodd, Toronto-based video producer
Topic: The Truth and Reconciliation Commission: A Personal Perspective

The closing ceremonies of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission marked the end of one journey and the beginning of another. Catherine Rodd is a Toronto-based video producer. She covered the event for the United Church, one of the parties to the Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. This is the single most important issue before all Canadians. Truth and Reconciliation may be our last chance to get it right. The time has come to fundamentally alter the role aboriginal people play in Canadian society.

HAT Forum
Saturday Sep 12th 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Room 304 519 Church Street -
A discussion of Bill C51

N.B. Forum ends at 12:30
to allow forum attendees
to go to HAT
Monthly Speaker Meeting at OISE 


What is your opinion about Bill C51?

What are the positive aspects of this Bill

What are the negative aspects of this Bill?

HAT End of Summer Party!
Sunday, August 30th
4 p.m. to 8 p.m.


Welcome to all HAT members and guests on Sunday, August 30th; 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Location will be at the home of one of the HAT Steering Committee members,
please call (416) 966-1361 for details.
TTC transport suggested as parking is limited.
HAT members and guests on Sunday, August 30th; 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Party is potluck with a meats and shellfish diet restriction.

HAT Forum:
Saturday Aug 29th 2015, 11:00 - 1:00,
519 Church Street Rm 304
Disaporas; What is the World to Do?

HAT Forum: Disaporas; What is the World to Do?
submitted by Gary Higgins
Definition: from the Greek meaning ' the spreading or scattering across '

There have been so many migrations and diasporas through out history; and their causes were manifold. 
the exodus of the Jews under Moses, 
the Irish potato famine, 
the deportation of English convicts to Australia,
natural disasters, like the floodings in New Orleans
the Chinese and the Indian subcontinent are noted for the largest of diasporas

But of late in world news, we are bombarded daily with horror stories of boat people escaping civil wars & racial & religious conflicts.
From North Africa, they are smuggling from Libya to Italy ; from Syria & Iraq through Turkey.

The EU is trying to help by accepting percentages of the migrants held in camps just inside Europe,

Greece is dead broke, and cannot afford to feed and care for an island full of refugees being detained
GB says no way they will accept any; and promises to fly them back to their country of origin, (First Class?)
Thousands have been camped out in Calais, France, trying to smuggle themselves to England.

Human smugglers are capitalizing on their plight, women & children, whole families on overcrowded boats are turning up drowned.

Donald Trump & Ted Cruz are very hostile to Mexicans and people from Central American countries crossing into the US, aware of how this message plays to the Republicans during a federal election.
 Calling them the worst of the worst; with greater percentages of rapists; ( "quick; hide the women and children ")

Into the US, economic migrants come in search of the American Dream.
"Anchor babies " is the newest term for giving birth to an illegal, that they will automatically become American Citizens, and will later sponsor the parents  and family


1. What is the world to do?
They are building a wall to separate Mexico from the US

2. What are the advantages to diasporas?
Economics, ideas, knowledge
The economist magazine sees only benefits
" the magic of diasporas "; plus numerous other articles

3. What are the negatives?
Xenophobia, racism, cheap work force displacing others

4. Is this just a cheap way around regular routes of citizenship, green cards?
Are rich countries in danger of being made poorer, because of these waves of illegal migrants?

5. Can NIMBY be tolerated?
Remember the Holocaust, and the Jews refused entry to America, "ship of fools"?

HAT Forum
Sat Aug 22nd 2015 11:00 a.m.
519 Church St Rm 304
If the price of Oil never recovers,
Will Canada change in a fundamental way?

HAT Forum
Sat Aug 22nd 2015 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
519 Church St Rm 304
If the Price of Oil never recovers, Will Canada change in a fundamental way?

- Are there examples of entire countries changing their core value systems?
- Do such changes happen gradually or suddenly?
- What is the tipping point for Canada to disown 'dirty' oil? (tar sands)
- What is the tipping point for Canada to disown all oil? (for renewables)
- How many aspects of Canadian Life are, directly or indirectly, dependent on oil?

HAT Forum: ​Leadership in Canada
Sat Aug 15th 2015
519 Church St. Rm 304

HAT Forum: ​Leadership in Canada
 Date: Saturday August 15th 2015
 Time: 11:00am to 1:00pm 
Location: The 519 Community Centre, 519 Church St. Room 304
 Proposer: Isabel Foote 

What qualities​ do we currently need most in a Canadian Prime Minister?

 Which of these qualities do we see in the current party Leaders?

HAT Forum
Greek Debt; a discussion of Issues
Saturday Aug 1st 2015
11: a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
519 Church Street, Room 304

HAT Forum - Greek Debt; a discussion of Issues
Saturday Aug 1st 2015
11: a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
519 Church Street, Room 304
proposed by Cecilia Rayo

We are not experts in Economics, but we can elaborate using our critical thinking to offer some answers to these complicated questions:
What went wrong in Greek”s economy?
Why was it allowed to drag this long?
Are the Greeks the only ones to be blamed?
Who are the beneficiaries of this crisis?
Why it is said that “Bankruptcy is worst than Austerity?
Corruption and tax evasion are easy to be controlled?
What are the consequences for EU if this crisis is not contained?

HAT Forum : Fixed Election Dates: Sat July 25th 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. OISE Rm 4-426

HAT Forum

Saturday 25 July 2015 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m

OISE, 4-426

Proposed by: Moses Klein

Before 2007 Canadian election law recognized the Prime Minister’s
prerogative in setting an election date, but a 2007 law established a
semi-fixed date. (All provinces except Nova Scotia have also enacted fixed
election laws.) It does not prevent early elections when the government
loses a confidence vote, as in 2011, nor did it prevent the Prime Minister
from calling an early election in 2008. However, analysts do attribute to
the fixed election schedule the extended campaign we seem to be in.

1. 1. Are there other reasons, besides the 2007 law, that political
campaigning before the writ period is more active than it used to be?

2. 2. How do you feel about longer political campaigns? If it’s a bad
thing, what can or should be done about it?

3. 3. Does the fixed election date limit the Prime Minister’s power
in important ways? Is this a good thing?

4. 4. Overall, do you support fixed election dates?

5. 5. Should the rules for political activity outside the writ period
be changed? In what ways, and why?

One of the issues I'm touching on (although not directly related to the
2007 changes) is the rules about activity before and during the writ
period. For background information, the best article I know explaining this
is this blog post from Alice Funke, aka The Pundit:

Forum topic: The Pan-Am games and similar major events Saturday 18 July, 11:00-1:00 OISE (252 Bloor St. W.) Room 4-426

HAT Forum - Forum topic: The Pan-Am games and similar major events

Saturday 18 July, 11:00-1:00

OISE (252 Bloor St. W.) Room 4-426

Toronto is in the middle of hosting the largest international sports event
ever held in Canada. How has that affected our lives and our city? Is it an
asset to the city? An inconvenience? What consequences do you expect for
the city in the aftermath? Should Toronto bid for other major international

HAT Book Club Meeting Sat Jun 8 to discuss "Decade of Fear: reporting from terrorism's grey zone" by Michelle Shephard

We will be discussing the following book at our regular meeting on Saturday, August 8 at 2:30.
Decade of fear: reporting from terrorism's grey zone  
Year/Format: 2011, Book, 320 p.
4 holds / 28 copies
Decade of Fear is a darkly entertaining journey through the complicated, often bizarre world of national security since 9/11. Shephard began a ten-year search for answers that took her through the streets of Mogadishu and Karachi, into the mountains of Waziristan and behind the wire of Guantanamo Bay two dozen times.
Michelle conducted hundreds of interviews worldwide, and with sharp insight and an appreciation for the absurd, she weaves together stories of warlords, presidents, spies, grieving widows and global terrorists, to describe the historic decade where often the West’s "solutions” for terrorism only served to exacerbate the problem.. Gripping, heartbreaking and infuriating, Decade of Fear broadens our understanding of a decade that was all too often described through panicked rhetoric.
For further info and location please leave your contact info at 416-966-1361

HAT Newsletter Summer 2015

Please click on this link to see the HAT Summer 2015 Newsletter
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.