Northern Exposures by David Bennett-Logo

front cover jacket of Northern Exposures

About the Book

David Bennett is the retired National Director of Health, Safety and Environment of the Canadian Labour Congress and the Book Review Editor of the journal New Solutions. Northern Exposures is the result of thirty years of work in the labor movement on workplace health and safety and environmental protection. In the 1990s, the author had a central responsibility in moving the Canadian Labour Congress from its established work in health and safety into environmental protection, a story detailed in Northern Exposures.

The book is a collection of published articles and reviews, linked by a new Introduction that shows the development of the thinking and actions of the Canadian labor movement in areas that were in constant flux. In health and safety and in environment, there was a major move away from remedial action and mitigation measures toward the new disciplines of prevention and their relation to sustainable development and green job creation. In both areas, there were impacts on the health disciplines of free trade agreements, risk analysis, and management systems, all of which are examined at length in Northern Exposures. The aim all along was not merely to respond to external pressures but to create an alternative vision and program that were coherent and well-articulated and also conducive to economic progress, green employment, cleaner technology, and healthy work. The scope of the book is wide ranging, including chemical policy regimes, cancer prevention, energy, resource and materials policy, and sustainable development.

In Praise

"... an important and thought-provoking book that shows how the labor movement has embraced environmental protection and is beginning to create a new and more sustainable vision for the future. Dave Bennett's knowledge and commitment shine through. He is, by turns, the skeptical philosopher sifting the evidence and the passionate partisan arguing for the rights of the people. It makes for a rich and exhilarating mixture."
— Nigel Crisp
Permanent Secretary, U.K. Department of Health, and
Chief Executive, National Health Service (2000-2006)
Author, ,Turning the World Upside Down: The Search for Global Health in the 21st Century (Royal Society of Medicine Press, 2010)

"... an important contribution to the contemporary history of the Canadian labor and environmental movements. His well-argued analysis chronicles the labor movement's shift from a narrow focus on occupational health to a much broader conceptualization of hazard prevention. The analysis is well-grounded in the legal and constitutional history of the period, and it also offers rich insights into the political struggles between the business and labor communities and the strategic struggles within the labor and environmental movements. If we are going to effectively advance an international movement for a sustainable future, we need critical retrospectives such as this on the efforts that have brought us major steps forward."
— Ken Geiser, Ph.D.
Professor of Work Environment
Co-Director, Lowell Center for Sustainable Production
University of Massachusetts Lowell

"... David Bennett writes as someone who, for more than 20 years, was in the forefront of the Canadian labor movement's struggles for a safer workplace and healthier environment. Based on his participation in numerous domestic and international negotiations, he provides not only a valuable historical account of those struggles but also a keen analytical treatment—reflecting his academic training as a philosopher—of many controversies in Canadian environmental policy.... Dr. Bennett's book is a powerful antidote to the contemporary tendency to depoliticize conflicts over underlying values through the jargon of 'risk management.'"
— Ted Schrecker
Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine
Principal Scientist, Institute of Population Health
University of Ottawa

"... coherently details the breadth and scope of the vision of the past 30 years to improve the health of working people and the communities in which they live. Making the connection between occupational health and environmental health, while easy in a conceptual sense, was a considerable challenge in a practical sense for many of the reasons Bennett presents. While Canadian provinces recognized limited rights of workers to participate in decisions about what went on in the workplace that affected their health, neither government nor business nor environmentalists saw those rights extending into the community. It is a credit to Bennett's vision and tenacity that he was able to extend that connection into concrete strategies and principles."
— Andrew King
National Health, Safety and Environment Coordinator/Department Leader
Health, Safety and Environment Department United Steelworkers Union-Canadian National Office


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6in by 9in, 216 Pages:

DAVID BENNETT holds an MA in history and philosophy from Cambridge University and Ph.D. in philosophy from McGill University. While working as a firefighter in England in 1972-77, he became a local union secretary and health and safety representative. From 1977 to 1979, he was an industrial tutor with the Workers' Educational Association (U.K.), specializing in health and safety, which was then emerging as a central area of union interest. He joined the Canadian Labour Congress in I960, first in Education Program Development, writing union education courses, then as Health and Safety Representative, followed by the new position of Environment Representative. He became National Director of Health, Safety and Environment in 1993. After his retirement in 2006, he took on the job of Book Review Editor of New Solutions, a journal to which he has been a frequent Canadian contributor over the past fifteen years.

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