April 14, 2005
5 Nisan, 5765


 

Ottawa rabbi adds Jewish touch
to Dalton McGuinty’s big day

By RON CSILLAG
Staff Reporter

The first few moments of Dalton McGuinty’s premiership had a distinctly Jewish flavour, with Rabbi Reuven Bulka, an old Ottawa friend of the new premier, blessing the government at its swearing-in ceremony last Thursday.

And both Jewish MPPs, wearing kippot and clutching Bibles, entered the 22-member cabinet.

Rabbi Bulka, whose synagogue, Congregation Machzikei Hadas, is only minutes from McGuinty’s Ottawa South constituency office, told The CJN that someone later offered to research whether this was the first time a rabbi recited the invocation at the swearing-in of a new Ontario government.

“I told him he didn’t need to research,” Rabbi Bulka said. “I said it was first time I had done it.”

He delivered a non-denominational blessing:

“To Team Ontario, which is all of us, and to Ontario’s new governing team, we invoke and ask for God’s blessing. May you guide, lead and inspire our province to a standard of excellence in which no one is left behind.

“And to you, Premier Dalton McGuinty and your government, may there be no task too daunting, no challenge too onerous, no achievement too elusive as you strive for the best for all Ontarians. God bless you all. Amen.”

Earlier, Rabbi Bulka earned hearty laughter when he quipped that “the majesty is in the regal setting at Queen’s Park, making our new premier truly a Royal Dalton.”

Presiding over the swearing in was Ontario Lt.-Gov. James Bartleman, a former Canadian ambassador to Israel.

Moments later, veteran MPP and Peterson-era cabinet minister Monte Kwinter, wearing a blue velvet kippah, was sworn in as the new minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services. Kwinter, 72, is responsible for policing and corrections, and will also be asked to review Ontario’s emergency preparedness.

The ministry is the latest incarnation of the solicitor general’s office that the former Tory government dubbed the public safety and security ministry.

The Liberals have promised to hire 1,000 more police officers over the next four years. Kwinter’s ministry oversees all police services, but he will be most directly involved with the Ontario Provincial Police.

Kwinter told reporters that one of his first priorities is to prevent the politicization of policing.

“I want to treat them in a professional way and I want to let them know I appreciate their profession,” he said.

David Caplan, MPP for Don Valley East, was also sworn in as minister of Public Infrastructure and Renewal and as deputy government house leader. In attendance was Caplan’s mother, federal National Revenue Minister Elinor Caplan, herself a provincial cabinet minister under former Liberal premier David Peterson.

Caplan, 39, will oversee a new ministry devoted to renewing the province’s schools, hospitals, sewers and transportation systems. The portfolio replaces Ontario SuperBuild Corp., the agency the former Progressive Conservative government established in 1999.

Representing the Jewish community at the ceremony was Bernie Farber, executive director of Canadian Jewish Congress, Ontario region.