James Laxer is regularly asked to comment on current national and global issues by the Canadian media and frequently writes columns in major newspapers and periodicals.
In 1969, he was one of the founders of the Waffle Group, Canada’s largest New Left political movement. In 1971, at the age of 29, he ran second for the national leadership of the New Democratic Party. In the mid 1970s, James Laxer was a leading crusader against the power of multi national petroleum companies. His books, speeches and television appearances helped lead to the creation of a nationally owned oil company, Petro Canada, established to counter the power of companies like Exxon in Canada.
In 1981, Laxer was appointed research director of the federal New Democratic Party. At the end of his two year term, he wrote a controversial, book length critique of the party’s economic policies, charging that they were seriously dated. The report was front page news in Canada and was debated for months in the national media.
In 1984, the National Film Board of Canada hired Laxer to be host narrator, for a series of documentaries on the changing global economy and Canada’s place in it. In preparing the series, Laxer travelled extensively in Japan, Europe and the United States. The series, entitled Reckoning, was denied broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation because it was seen as too controversial.
Instead it was broadcast by a hook up of all the English language educational networks in the country. The series was also broadcast in the United States, as well, by a large number of PBS stations. The Reckoning series has won awards in both the United States and Canada. One of its films won the blue ribbon, first prize, at the prestigious American Film and Video Festival, for best political documentary. The same film won the Atlantic
Film Festival and national Gemini Awards in Canada for best writing in an information series, awards which went to Laxer and the film’s director as co-authors.
In 1986-87, Laxer spent a year in Europe writing Decline of the Superpowers. From 1978 to 1981, he hosted a public affairs television program on TV Ontario. He regularly went to Europe to conduct interviews with leading European political and intellectual figures. In 1993 his book False God: How the Globalization Myth Has Impoverished Canada, was published by Lester Publishing. In Search of a New Left: Canadian Politics
After the Neo-Conservative Assault was published by Viking in 1996. The Undeclared War: Class Conflict in the Age of Cyber Capitalism, was published by Viking in 1998, and by Penguin Canada in 1999, in a paperback edition. Dalton Camp wrote that the Undeclared War "is an informed and cogent book on the great and growing dilemma of our time: how to preserve a free society in the face of increasing disparity and the creation of a new class society---‘a dominant class and a dominated class.’ This is stuff we need to know." Laxer’s book, Stalking the Elephant: My Discovery of America was on national best seller lists for seven weeks in the autumn of 2000. In his review of the book for the Globe and Mail, David Shribman, Pulitzer prize winning columnist for the Boston Globe, commented: "This is a book by a Canadian that can change the United States." Stalking the Elephant is to be published by The New Press in New York in September 2001. In 2003, his book, The Border: Canada, the U.S. and Dispatches from the 49th Parallel, was published by Doubleday Canada. In 2004, Douglas and McIntyre published his book Red Diaper Baby: A Boyhood in the Age of McCarthyism. This memoir of James Laxer’s childhood was the winner of the Canadian Jewish Book Award for best biography/memoir in 2005.
James Laxer is a Professor of Political Science at York University in Toronto