Robert Mendel Laxer[1] (September 10, 1915 – October 24, 1998)[1] was a Canadian psychologist, professor, author, and political activist.

Life and career

Laxer was born in Montreal, Quebec in 1915 and graduated from McGill University with a B.A. in 1936 and an M.A. in 1939.[2]

Laxer joined the Communist Party of Canada during the Great Depression. He worked as a freelance journalist until 1941 when he joined the Canadian Army and served during World War II.[2] Upon returning to Canada in 1947, he became a paid organizer for the Communist Party's successor, the Labor-Progressive Party. Following the Twentieth Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the accusations by Nikita Khrushchev of crimes by Joseph Stalin, and the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary, Laxer joined many other disillusioned Communists in resigning from the party.

He returned to school and ultimately obtained a doctorate in clinical and learning psychology from the University of Toronto. From 1960 to 1964, he was a lecturer in the University of Toronto's department of psychology and a clinical psychologist at Toronto General Hospital.[2]

He then taught at York University, and later became an associate professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and became a full professor in 1968.[2]

In 1969, he joined his son, James Laxer, and Mel Watkins to form the Waffle, a socialist group within the New Democratic Party. Through the 1970s, he wrote numerous articles and books advocating Canadian economic independence from the United States[3] and, in particular, Canadian ownership of the oil industry. He was appointed by Pierre Trudeau to the board of directors of Petro-Canada which had been created as a state-owned crown corporation, in part, due to Laxer's arguments.[2]

In the 1980s, Laxer was active in the Council of Canadians, the peace movement, and as an opponent of the Canada–United States Free Trade Agreement.