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Robert P. Kaplan

KAPLAN, ROBERT P. (Bob; 1936– ), Canadian politician, lawyer, businessman. Kaplan was born in Toronto. He earned a B.A. (1958) and LL.B. (1961) from the University of Toronto, during which time he was awarded a number of academic prizes and wrote for the University's student newspaper and for the Toronto Telegram. Called to the Ontario Bar in 1963, he practiced corporate and tax law with several prominent firms. In 1968 he entered national politics, working on Pierre Elliott Trudeau's successful campaign for leadership of the Liberal Party. In the federal election that same year, Kaplan was elected to the House of Commons for Toronto's Don Mills riding. He lost his seat in the election of 1972 but was re-elected in 1974 in the heavily Jewish York Centre riding and held the seat until he retired from electoral politics in 1993.

In 1980 Trudeau appointed Kaplan to the cabinet post as solicitor general, responsible for Canadian law enforcement and for national security. He also held the post during the short-lived administration of Trudeau's successor, John Turner. Among Kaplan's contributions as solicitor general was overseeing a reorganization of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and establishing the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. He also implemented the Young Offenders Act (1982), dealing with youth accountability for criminal actions, and reformed the Correctional Services of Canada. When the Liberals lost the 1984 federal election, Kaplan was personally re-elected in York Centre and became the Liberal opposition's justice critic.

Kaplan is best remembered in the Canadian Jewish community for his attempts to persuade a reluctant Liberal government to take action against war criminals living in Canada. The government, under Trudeau's influence, however, was wary of inciting inter-ethnic passions and refused to take action, despite strong lobbying by Jewish leaders. Nevertheless, Kaplan was able to extradite a Nazi war criminal, Helmut Rauca, to West Germany in 1982, where he was imprisoned.

Kaplan was honored with numerous awards, including the Order de la Pléiade for his service to francophonie in Canada. From 1994, he was honorary consul general of Kazakhstan in Canada and fostered relations and business contacts between that country and Canada. Kaplan was a member of committees at the University of Toronto, the Alliance Française in Toronto, the Canadian Jewish Congress, and B'nai B'rith Canada. He sat on boards of a number of publicly traded companies and was a trustee of H&R REIT, one of Canada's largest real estate investment trusts, and a director of TV Niagara and European Goldfields.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.