Former Ontario health minister David Caplan is being remembered as a statesman who looked for common ground and sliced through bureaucratic red tape.
Mourners paid their final respects to the Liberal politician on Sunday during a service at Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto.
The 54-year-old died last Wednesday in what his family is calling a “tragic fire accident” at his home in North Toronto.
“It’s just a shock, a terrible shock for his wife and his kids, and he was just way too young,” said former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty.
Caplan served under McGuinty when the Liberals rose to power in 2003.
“We live in an age where it’s very fashionable to be cynical about politics and our political actors, but David was one of these guys who just wanted to give,” McGuinty, who is now retired from politics, said. “He was in politics for all the right reasons, and I’m very happy to have been given the opportunity to work with him.”
Caplan was first elected to Queen’s Park in 1997 and served in several high-profile positions, including minister of health and long-term care, but was shuffled out of cabinet following the eHealth scandal in which millions were paid out in expense accounts and to consultants with government ties. The former school board trustee also served as minister of infrastructure during his time at Queen’s Park.
“He cared about people. He got into politics through education so we had a similar path,” said former premier Kathleen Wynne. “He was very insightful so when we were sitting around the cabinet table, he could cut through the nonsense and get to, ‘OK, what are we going to do?'”
Meanwhile, Toronto police are investigating the sudden death and say foul play is not suspected.
Caplan’s family is asking people to consider making a donation to Special Olympics Ontario and Habitat for Humanity in lieu of flowers, two organizations Caplan held close to his heart.
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