Avi Lewis

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Avi Lewis
Lewis in 2015
Lewis in 2015
BornMay 1967 (age 56)
OccupationAuthor, activist, broadcaster
Alma materUniversity of Toronto
SpouseNaomi Klein
ParentsStephen Lewis,
Michele Landsberg
RelativesDavid Lewis (grandfather)
Moishe Lewis (great-grandfather)

Avram David "Avi" Lewis (born May 1967)[2] is a Canadian documentary filmmaker, former host of the Al Jazeera English show Fault Lines[3] and former host of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) current-affairs programs CounterSpin and On the Map.



Avi Lewis is the great-grandson of Moshe Losz (Lewis), an outspoken member of the Jewish Bund who left Svislach, Poland (absorbed by the Soviet Union during World War II, and today in Belarus), after being interrogated by the Russians and threatened with death or the Gulag for his political activity, he left for Montreal in 1921, with his wife Rose (née Lazarovitch) and three children. Avi Lewis is the grandson of former federal New Democratic Party leader David Lewis and the son of former Ontario NDP leader and diplomat Stephen Lewis and journalist Michele Landsberg. Avi Lewis is married to journalist and author Naomi Klein; his sister Ilana Landsberg-Lewis was the executive director of the Stephen Lewis Foundation.[4]

Lewis grew up in Toronto, Ontario, and attended Jarvis Collegiate and Upper Canada College. He graduated from the University of Toronto in 1988.[5]

Lewis was featured on the November 20, 2001, "Life & Times" episode of The Lewis Family.[6]

Avi Lewis's genealogical search was featured on the January 31, 2008, episode of the CBC's Who Do You Think You Are?[7]


Between 1996 and 1998, Avi Lewis was host of The NewMusic, a music magazine show on MuchMusic and Citytv. He also served as MuchMusic's political specialist — by doing extensive special events coverage for the channel designed to engage youth in the political process. Among other events, he covered the 1993 Canadian federal election and the 1995 Quebec referendum. Avi Lewis won a Gemini for Best Event Coverage.

In 1998–2001, Lewis hosted CBC Newsworld's current affairs discussion show counterSpin, where he presided over 500 debates. Avi Lewis was later the host of Counterspin Sunday.

In 2004, Lewis and his wife Naomi Klein collaborated on The Take — a documentary that detailed the "recovered factory" movement in Argentina. The Take, winner of the International Jury Prize, was nominated for four Gemini Awards.

Lewis began hosting CBC Newsworld's The Big Picture with Avi Lewis in the autumn of 2006 and On the Map in 2007. He became host of Frontline USA for Al Jazeera television in 2008. Lewis was a participant in the CBC's Canada Reads 2009 (see below).

Lewis directed the 2015 feature-length documentary This Changes Everything,[8] which finished second in the audience voting, for the documentary category, at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.[9]

On the Map[edit]

In June 2007, CBC Newsworld debuted On the Map with Avi Lewis, a daily (Monday-Thursday) half-hour of international news commentary. Lewis discussed such issues as the "Oil Law" that the United States wished Iraq to adopt, women in Afghanistan,[10] and what exactly is meant by the phrase "ungoverned spaces". The show was officially renewed for November 2007 and then disappeared without ever airing again.[11] On the Map's half-hour time slot was replaced with a half-hour summary of the daily hour-long show Politics by Don Newman.[12]

During the same time period, The Hour, which had a mix of news commentary and pop culture and provided a lighter fare than On the Map, became decidedly more oriented to pop culture - even though there has been some creep towards greater news commentary as the season progressed. George Stroumboulopoulos stated during the opening show, that the modification of format was because The Hour would now be shown right after The National (rather than before in previous seasons) when shown on the CBC main channel.[13][14][15]

Lewis conducted a June 11, 2007, interview with political writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali. After repeatedly and openly sniggering at Hirsi Ali's complimentary remarks about the United States, Lewis sharply questioned some of her views - including her denial of the existence of Islamophobia, her belief that Islam was inherently misogynistic, and her positive opinions concerning American democracy. Lewis compared Islamophobia to Anti-Semitism, seeing both as equally real, to which Ali replied: "Racism is a universal trait, so is antisemitism, by the way. But I want us not to confuse a set of beliefs such as Islam, with ethnicity such as the hatred against Jews just because they are Jews, or against blacks just because they are black, or against gays just because of- it's something you can't do anything about. Whereas Islam is simply a set of beliefs, and it's not Islamophobic to say ... this is being done in the name of your religion."[16] The interview provoked a strongly critical response from right-wing commentators in the US and Canada.[citation needed]

Lewis has stated [17] that Hugo Chávez's actions do not match his rhetoric and has criticized Chávez for not doing more to close down the "laboratory" of policies which he had inherited from previous administrations. Naomi Klein, who credited Avi Lewis for his input into her book The Shock Doctrine, links both stifling of dissent and concentration of power with the implementation of these earlier economic policies.[citation needed][17]

Why Democracy?[edit]

From October 8–18, 2007, Avi Lewis hosted the ten-part international documentary series Why Democracy? in Canada.[18]

Frontline USA / Inside USA[edit]

Inside USA was first telecast on Al Jazeera on February 8, 2008, with the episode "Politics of Race". Al Jazeera describes Inside USA as "an in-depth look at the real issues at stake in the US presidential election."[19]

Politics Of Race (February 22, 2008) focused on the situation in New Orleans and the disenfranchising of Black voters.[20][21]

Native Americans (March 1, 2008) focused on Lakota Sioux separatism, social and economic issues surrounding the Lakota Sioux, Navajo and the Shoshone peoples.[22][23] The last few minutes were devoted to the role online videos play in the American election - including a clip from "Yes We Can".

Canada Reads[edit]

Lewis was a panelist in the CBC's Canada Reads, which aired on March 2–6, 2009. Canada Reads is a seasonal show in which celebrities choose a book and advocate on its behalf. He presented, and successfully defended, the winning book, Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negroes.[24]

Leap Manifesto[edit]

In September 2015, Lewis, Naomi Klein, and others launched the Leap Manifesto - which proposed broad changes to Canadian society and economics in order to respond to climate change through a policy framework that also addresses issues of wealth and income inequality, racism, and colonialism and in hopes of influencing the policy debate during the 2015 Canadian federal election campaign.[25][26] In 2016, Lewis spearheaded a motion at the New Democratic Party of Canada's federal election which would have had the party endorse the manifesto - in the end, the motion was amended to refer the manifesto to constituency associations for debate. Lewis and other manifesto signatories launched an organization to promote the manifesto's vision in 2017, called The Leap, which operated until 2021 and was a key convenor of Canada's Pact for a Green New Deal in 2019.[27]

Electoral politics[edit]

In May 2021, Lewis was nominated as the NDP's candidate for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, British Columbia for the 2021 Canadian federal election,[28][29] which was subsequently called for September 20, 2021.[30] Lewis' run for federal parliament was endorsed by environmentalist David Suzuki,[31][32] actress Jane Fonda,[32][33] playwright Eve Ensler,[34] folk singer and activist Billy Bragg,[35] and biologist Alexandra Morton.[36] He came in third behind incumbent Liberal Patrick Weiler who has represented the riding since 2019 and Conservative John Weston, who had previously represented the district from 2008 until 2015.


  1. ^ Congratulations to Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis on the birth of their son - Democracy Now!
  2. ^ "The political siren finally blares for Avi Lewis". TVO. May 21, 2021. Retrieved May 23, 2021.
  3. ^ Biography: Avi Lewis,
  4. ^ "Michele Landsberg celebrates 70 years". Now, July 15, 2009.
  5. ^ Alumni in the arts Archived September 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ CBC: Life And Times Archived May 29, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Who Do You Think You Are? | Stories | Avi Lewis Archived January 29, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Steve Gravestock. "This Changes Everything (programme note)". TIFF. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
  9. ^ "Toronto International Film Festival Announces 2015 Award Winners" (PDF) (Press release). TIFF. September 20, 2015. Retrieved September 21, 2015.
  10. ^ "On The Map with Avi Lewis: Ann Jones & Women in Afghanistan". YouTube. July 5, 2007. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  11. ^ "On The Map with Avi Lewis: Wrap Up". YouTube. July 5, 2007. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  12. ^ CBC.ca Politics
  13. ^ On The Map with Avi Lewis CBC.ca Archived July 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ The Big Picture with Avi Lewis CBC.ca Archived September 25, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "The Take official website". Archived from the original on February 26, 2011. Retrieved June 28, 2015.
  16. ^ On The Map with Avi Lewis: Ayaan Hirsi Ali & Islamophobia on YouTube
  17. ^ a b On The Map with Avi Lewis: The Chavez Mystique on YouTube
  18. ^ "Why Democracy?: Host, Avi Lewis". CBC Newsworld. Archived from the original on May 11, 2009. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
  19. ^ Frontline USA: Politics of Race Archived February 28, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ Inside USA - Politics of Race - 22 Feb 08 - Pt 1, YouTube
  21. ^ Inside USA - Politics of Race - 22 Feb 08 - Pt 2, YouTube
  22. ^ AlJazeeraEnglish. "Inside USA - Native Americans - 01 Mar 08 - Part 1". YouTube. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  23. ^ AlJazeeraEnglish. "Inside USA - Native Americans - 01 Mar 08 - Part 2". YouTube. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  24. ^ Canadian Broadcasting Corporation We have a winner for Canada Reads 2009! - The Book of Negroes By Lawrence Hill. cbc.ca Canada Reads. Archived December 25, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ Chen, Michael (September 15, 2015). "'Leap manifesto' backed by prominent NDPers, actors, activists calls for upending of capitalist system". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved December 2, 2020.
  26. ^ The Leap (October 5, 2016). "The Leap Manifesto: One Year Later". theleap.org. Retrieved December 2, 2020.
  27. ^ "Hitting the road for a Green New Deal". The Leap. May 10, 2019. Retrieved April 7, 2021.
  28. ^ "Film producer Avi Lewis named as NDP candidate in B.C. riding". National Post. May 22, 2021. Retrieved August 22, 2021.
  29. ^ "Filmmaker, activist Avi Lewis to run for federal NDP seat in B.C. riding". CTVNews. May 17, 2021. Retrieved May 17, 2021.
  30. ^ "Canada is headed for a federal election on Sept. 20". CBC News. August 15, 2021. Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  31. ^ Seyd, Jane. "David Suzuki offers heavyweight help to NDP's climate candidate in West Vancouver Sunshine Coast Sea-to-Sky". North Shore News. Retrieved September 3, 2021.
  32. ^ a b Stefanovich, Olivia. "Climate activist Avi Lewis aims to leave mark on NDP despite running in long-odds riding". cbc.ca. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. CBC News. Retrieved September 20, 2021.
  33. ^ Raycraft, Richard (September 12, 2021). "Leaders find ways to make voters laugh and smile in a gloomy campaign". CBC News. Retrieved September 15, 2021. "I'm excited that Canada will have Avi Lewis representing you — and a little jealous too," she said, perhaps prematurely, in an endorsement video.
  34. ^ Lewis, Avi. "V (formerly Eve Ensler) is a dear friend, mentor, and artist-comrade. Her words make me want to fight harder. #GlobalGreenNewDeal". Twitter. Retrieved September 17, 2021.
  35. ^ "Billy Bragg - "Waiting for the Leap Manifesto"". YouTube.
  36. ^ Morton, Alexandra. "Why I support @NDP candidate @avilewis for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky MP. #cdnpoli #Elxn44 #WestVancouver #SunshineCoast". Twitter. Retrieved September 17, 2021.

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