Elinor Caplan

Elinor Caplan PC (born May 20, 1944) is a businesswoman and former politician in Ontario, Canada. She served in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1985 to 1997, and was a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons of Canada from 1997 to 2004. A Liberal, she served as a cabinet minister in the provincial government of David Peterson and the federal government of Jean Chrétien.

Elinor Caplan

Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Thornhill
In office
Preceded byNew riding
Succeeded bySusan Kadis
Ontario MPP
In office
Preceded byJohn Reesor Williams
Succeeded byDavid Caplan
Personal details
Elinor Hershorn

(1944-05-20) May 20, 1944
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Political partyLiberal
Spouse(s)Mayer Wilfred Caplan (b. 1935, m. 1963)
ChildrenDavid Caplan (1964-2019), Mark Caplan, Meredith, Zane Caplansky
ProfessionCivil servant


She was born in Toronto to Samuel S. Hershorn, a textile manufacturer, and his wife Thelma (Goodman) Hershorn, both of whose families had come to Canada from Russian Poland.[1] Caplan attended Oakwood Collegiate Institute in Toronto,[2] and then Centennial College. She then worked in real estate heading Elinor Caplan and Associates from 1973 to 1978. Her husband, Wilfred, sought election to the provincial legislature in the 1977 election, but was defeated.[3] Caplan is Jewish, and is a longtime member of Canadian Hadassah-WIZO, a women's Zionist organization.



She ran for office in 1978, when she was elected to the North York municipal council as an alderman.[1][4]


She ran for the provincial legislature in the 1981 election, but lost to Progressive Conservative David Rotenberg in the constituency of Wilson Heights.[5]

She was elected to the Ontario legislature in the 1985 election, defeating Progressive Conservative incumbent John Williams by over 4,000 votes in the North York riding of Oriole.[6] The Liberal Party formed a minority government after this election, and Caplan was appointed as Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet on June 26, 1985. She resigned her portfolio on June 16, 1986, following accusations of a conflict of interest relating to her husband's business dealings; while protesting her innocence, she claimed she had lost the confidence of the house. Caplan was subsequently exonerated by a parliamentary commission.

Caplan won a landslide re-election victory in the provincial election of 1987,[7] She was reappointed to Peterson's cabinet on September 29, 1987 as Minister of Health. She held this position until the Liberals were defeated by the Ontario New Democratic Party in the 1990 election. Caplan defeated NDP candidate Lennox Farrell by just over 2,000 votes in the 1990 campaign, and remained a prominent figure in the official opposition, serving as Deputy House Leader in 1994-95.[8]

In the 1995 election, Caplan narrowly retained her seat against a challenge from Progressive Conservative Paul Sutherland.[9] She served as Chief Opposition Whip from 1995 to 1996, and retired from the legislature on May 1, 1997. (She was succeeded as the MPP for Oriole by her son, David Caplan, who went on to serve as a cabinet minister in the government of Dalton McGuinty.) In 1996, she supported Joseph Cordiano for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party.

Provincial Cabinet posts

Ontario Provincial Government of David Peterson
Cabinet post (1)
Predecessor Office Successor
Murray Elston Minister of Health
Evelyn Gigantes
Special Cabinet Responsibilities
Predecessor Title Successor
George Ashe Chair of Management Board
Robert Nixon

Federal politics

Caplan was elected to the federal House of Commons in the 1997 election, defeating her closest opponent by more than 14,000 votes in the riding of Thornhill.[10] She served as parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Health in 1998-99, and was appointed to cabinet as Minister of Citizenship and Immigration on August 3, 1999.

There was some speculation that Caplan would be challenged by David Rotenberg in the 2000 federal election, but this ultimately came to nothing. Facing an inexperienced opponent from the Canadian Alliance, she was easily re-elected.[11] After a cabinet shuffle on January 15, 2002, Caplan was appointed Minister of National Revenue. She was dropped from cabinet when Paul Martin replaced Chrétien as Prime Minister in December 2003. She did not seek re-election in the 2004 election.

Federal Cabinet posts

Parliament of Canada
26th Ministry – Cabinet of Jean Chrétien
Cabinet posts (2)
Predecessor Office Successor
Martin Cauchon Minister of National Revenue
Stan Keyes
Lucienne Robillard Minister of Citizenship and Immigration
Denis Coderre

After politics

In late 2004, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty appointed Caplan to lead a provincial inquiry into the state of home-care medical services.


  1. Brown, Michael. "Elinor Caplan". Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2015-10-05.
  2. Gasner, Cynthia (May 15, 2008). "Oakwood CI marks 100 years". Canadian Jewish News.
  3. "Ontario provincial election results riding by riding". The Globe and Mail. June 10, 1977. p. D9.
  4. "Metro Elections: How you voted". The Toronto Star. November 14, 1978. pp. A12–A13.
  5. Canadian Press (1981-03-20). "Election results for Metro Toronto ridings". The Windsor Star. Windsor, Ontario. p. 22. Retrieved 2014-03-06.
  6. "Results of vote in Ontario election". The Globe and Mail. May 3, 1985. p. 13.
  7. "Results from individual ridings". The Windsor Star. September 11, 1987. p. F2.
  8. "Ontario election: Riding-by-riding voting results". The Globe and Mail. September 7, 1990. p. A12.
  9. "Summary of Valid Ballots by Candidate". Elections Ontario. June 8, 1995. Archived from the original on March 19, 2014. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  10. "Final Results Riding by Riding". Calgary Herald. June 4, 1997. p. A5.
  11. "Election Results". Star - Phoenix. Saskatoon, SK. November 28, 2000. p. A8.
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