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Life and career
Laxer was born in Montreal, Quebec, and is the son of Edna May (née Quentin) and Robert Laxer, a psychologist, professor, author, and political activist. His father was Jewish and his mother was from a Protestant family. His paternal grandfather was a rabbi and his maternal grandfather was a minister. In 1969, Laxer, along with his father Robert Laxer and Mel Watkins, founded the Waffle, a radical left wing group influenced by the New Left, the anti-Vietnam War movement and Canadian economic nationalism, that tried to win control of the New Democratic Party (NDP).
In 1971, Laxer ran for the leadership of the federal NDP, and shocked the convention by winning one-third of the vote against party stalwart David Lewis. The Waffle was ultimately forced out of the NDP and briefly became an independent political party under the name "Movement for an Independent Socialist Canada". Laxer and other Wafflers unsuccessfully ran for Parliament in 1974. This electoral failure led to the Waffle's dissolution, and Laxer concentrated on his work as an academic at York University and in broadcasting.
In 1981, he was hired as director of research for the federal NDP, but left in controversy in 1983 when he published a report critiquing the party's economic policies as being "out of date".
Laxer remains prominent as an author, columnist and commentator.
Laxer has four children: Michael, Kate, Emily and Jonathan.
- James Laxer (1993). False god: how the globalization myth has impoverished Canada. Lester Pub. ISBN 978-1-895555-09-7.
- James Laxer (1996). In search of a new left: Canadian politics after the neoconservative assault. Viking. ISBN 978-0-670-85901-6.
- James Laxer (1998). The undeclared war: class conflict in the age of cyber capitalism. Viking.
- James Laxer (2000). Stalking the elephant: my discovery of America. Viking.
- James Laxer (2003). The border: Canada, the U.S. and dispatches from the 49th parallel. Doubleday Canada.
- James Laxer (2005). Red Diaper Baby: A Boyhood in the Age of McCarthyism. Douglas & McIntyre. ISBN 978-1-55365-150-5.
- James Laxer (2007). The Acadians: In Search of a Homeland. Doubleday Canada. ISBN 978-0-385-66109-6.
- James Laxer (2008). Mission of Folly: Canada and Afghanistan. Between the Lines Books. ISBN 978-1-897071-37-3.
- James Laxer (2009). Beyond the Bubble: Imagining a New Canadian Economy. Between the Lines Books. ISBN 978-1-897071-55-7.
- MacDonald, Scott B.; Gastmann, Albert L. (2001-07-05). A history of credit & power in the western world. Transaction Publishers. pp. 292–. ISBN 978-0-7658-0085-5. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
- Fulford, Robert; Godfrey, Dave; Rotstein, Abraham (1972-01-01). Read Canadian: a book about Canadian books. James Lorimer & Company. pp. 90–. ISBN 978-0-88862-019-4. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
- Dobbin, Murray (2003-09-15). Paul Martin: CEO for Canada?. James Lorimer & Company. pp. 10–. ISBN 978-1-55028-799-8. Retrieved 1 June 2011.