Gerald Lewis (Gerry) Caplan, PhD (born 1938) is a Canadian academic, public policy analyst, commentator and political activist. He has had a varied career in academia, as a political organizer for the New Democratic Party, in advocacy around education, broadcasting and African affairs and as a commentator in various Canadian media.
Caplan has a Masters in Canadian history from the University of Toronto and a doctorate in African history from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. His Masters thesis was Co-operative Commonwealth Federation in Ontario, 1932-1945: a study of socialist and anti-socialist politics and was later revised and published in book form in 1973 as The Dilemma of Canadian Socialism : The CCF in Ontario. His doctoral thesis was also published as The Elites of Barotseland: A History of Zambia's Western Province.
He is an authority on genocide and genocide prevention an internationally recognized expert on the Rwanda genocide. In 2000, he wrote a report on the subject, Rwanda: The Preventable Genocide for the Organization of African Unity's International Panel of Eminent Personalities to Investigate the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda.
From 1967 to 1977, Caplan was an associate professor in the Department of History and Philosophy of Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Subsequently, he was director of CUSO's volunteer program in Nigeria.
Caplan has been a political activist all his life as a member of the CCF and its successor, the NDP. He was campaign manager in a series of election campaigns, both federal and provincial, including those for Ontario leader Donald C. MacDonald and national party leader David Lewis. A lifelong friend of David's son Stephen Lewis, he was also a close advisor and senior strategist to Lewis prior to and during his career as leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party in the 1970s. From 1982 to 1984, Caplan was federal secretary of the New Democratic Party, and was national campaign manager for the 1984 general election.
In 1985, Caplan was co-chair of the Task Force on Canadian Broadcasting Policy by then-Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. For many years he remained vocal in defence of public broadcasting, some of it with the lobby group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.
He worked as a political columnist for the Toronto Star in from the mid-1980s for a number of years, and was often on television and radio as a political pundit supporting the NDP. He was a member of the long-running Thursday morning Pundits' Panel on CTV Television's morning program, Canada AM. He continues to contribute opinion pieces to various Canadian newspapers including the Star and The Globe and Mail. Following the 1988 federal election, he co-authored Election : the issues, the strategies, the aftermath with Liberal strategiest Michael Kirby and Tory strategist Hugh Segal.
From 1993 to 1995, Caplan was co-chair of Ontario's Royal Commission on Learning having been appointed to the position by Ontario Premier Bob Rae. Prior to the 1999 Ontario election he served as the Director of Research for the Ontario NDP caucus.
In 1999, with his study of the Rwandan genocide, Caplan returned full-time to African matters. After completing the report on the genocide, he founded and became co-coordinator of Remembering Rwanda, an international movement of volunteers dedicated to commemorating the tenth anniversary of the genocide. he has remained active around issues related to Rwanda and genocide prevention in general, speaking and writing frequently about both.
In 2001, he was named by the United Nation’s Special Coordinator for Africa as a member of the senior experts’ team undertaking an evaluation of the UN’s New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s. He has also acted as a consultant for the Economic Commission for Africa, UNICEF, WHO and the African Union.
He served, as well, as volunteer chair of the International Advisory Board for the University of Toronto Centre for International Health's HIV/AIDS Initiative, and is part of the small team that supports Stephen Lewis in his work as UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa.