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Elinor Caplan

(1944- )

CAPLAN, ELINOR (1944– ), Canadian politician. Caplan was born in Toronto. Drawn to electoral politics, she spent more than a quarter-century in elected office. In 1978 she was first elected to the municipal council in the borough of North York, home for much of the Toronto Jewish community. Shifting to provincial politics, during the 1985–90 Liberal government of Premier David Peterson, Caplan held several cabinet portfolios, including that of minister of health. Forced back to the Opposition benches after the Liberal defeat in 1990, she served for a time as chief Opposition whip. In 1997 she ran federally for the Liberal Party in the heavily Jewish riding of Thornhill just north of Toronto and was handily elected. In 1999 Prime Minister Jean Chretien appointed Caplan to his cabinet, making her the first Jewish women to serve in the federal cabinet. As minister of citizenship and immigration, she shepherded a new Immigration and Refugee Protection Act through Parliament. Running for re-election in 2000, Caplan became a lightning rod for those upset at what they regarded as unjust Canadian criticism of Israeli occupation policies; nevertheless she won easily. In 2002 she moved to the post of minister of national revenue but retired from electoral politics in 2004. Caplan is married and has four children, one of whom is a Liberal member of the Ontario legislature and cabinet minister.

[Harold Troper (2nd ed.)]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.