Pension plan chief’s resignation renews debate over vaccine queue jumping


One veteran corporate director said he doesn’t think ‘shaming people’ for getting vaccinated reflects well on Canada or its politicians

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The abrupt resignation of the head of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board after it was revealed the 54-year-old was vaccinated against COVID-19 in Dubai has sparked a new round of debate over vaccine queue jumping and non-essential travel by business leaders and government officials during the pandemic.

Mark Machin, who piloted the nearly $476-billion CPP pension fund to an annualized five-year return of 9.7 per cent since taking over the fund in 2016 — most recently through the thick of the pandemic — tendered his resignation, which was accepted by the CPPIB’s board of directors, late Thursday.

“We are very disappointed by this troubling situation and we support the swift action taken by the board,” Katherine Cuplinskas, a spokeswoman for Finance minister Chrystia Freeland, said in an emailed statement.

CPPIB operates at arms-length from government, but its board is appointed by the federal finance minister. Freeland spoke to the pension board’s chair, Heather Munroe-Blum, on Friday and “made clear that Canadians place their trust in CPPIB and expect it to be held to a higher standard,” Cuplinskas said.

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A doctor by training and investment banker by career, Machin told staff in a memo Thursday night that the trip was deeply personal, and that he was still in the UAE with his partner, according to The Canadian Press.

A former pension official said Machin has two daughters, who remained in Asia when the London-born executive’s duties pulled him to CPPIB’s headquarters in Toronto.

Machin’s memo to staff suggests there may have been an unspoken justification for his actions, said two veteran corporate directors, who spoke on condition that they would not be identified.

One director said it could be as simple as not being a full-time Canadian resident, adding that he doesn’t think “shaming people” for getting vaccinated reflects well on Canada or its politicians. This is particularly the case, he said, when there are thousands of Canadians spending the winter in the United States “including a number of CEOs and most have been vaccinated.”

The other longtime director, who has served on the board of both public and private organizations, said he didn’t think Machin’s behaviour was a firing offence, and praised his performance at CPPIB after taking over as CEO on relatively short notice when Mark Wiseman left in 2016.

But Richard Leblanc, professor of governance, law and ethics at York University, said he could not think of a reason that would justify the decision to “jump the line” in Canada where there is no private market and the vaccine is being delivered as a “public good.”

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”If there were exceptional circumstances for a particular CEO, then there should be permission from stakeholders, including any regulator or governmental entity for a Crown or quasi-Crown company,” Leblanc said.

“This issue is largely moral leadership, and leading by example.”

A senior government official said the finance minister was not aware of Machin’s trip ahead of time and would not expect to be apprised because of the arms-length relationship.

Canada is just beginning to vaccinate the public at large, beginning with those over 80. The country’s inoculation program began in long-term care and retirement homes, and hospitals.

This issue is largely moral leadership, and leading by example

A handful of government and corporate officials have been censured for either jumping the queue to get a COVID-19 vaccine, or for engaging in non-essential travel, which has been discouraged by the federal government during the pandemic.

Rod Baker, the 55-year-old chief executive of Great Canadian Gaming, resigned last month after to was revealed that he had chartered a private plane to a remote Yukon community to get vaccinated along with his wife.

Ontario’s then-finance minister Rod Phillips, meanwhile, lost his cabinet seat after it was revealed that he had travelled to St. Barts in the Caribbean in December.

And Dr. Tom Stewart, CEO of St. Joseph’s Health System and Niagara Health, resigned from Ontario’s COVID-19 advisory board after leaving the country over the Christmas holidays for a trip to the Dominican Republic.

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Leblanc said a business leader or politician leader might argue that the travel is for personal reasons, not on behalf of the company or the country, but an organization’s brand is always associated with its CEO.

“The CPPIB board did the right thing. It acted decisively,” he said, adding that the pension organization’s decision to name a new CEO right away would “mitigate reputation risk, and (avoid) disruption and a CEO search.”

John Graham was named Friday as Machin’s successor, becoming the third CEO at the investment arm of Canada’s largest pension in less than nine years.

Machin had emerged as a bit of a surprise to observers when he got the job in 2016, having only joined the pension manager four years earlier as president of CPPIB’s operations in Asia, based in Hong Kong.

He quickly rose through the ranks to lead all CPPIB’s international investment activities, and his appointment as CEO made him the first non-Canadian to run the investment organization responsible for the retirement savings of Canadians.

Before joining CPPIB, he worked at Goldman Sachs for more than 20 years, helping establish a capital markets office in Hong Kong office and rising to the position of vice-chairman for Asia (outside Japan), based in Beijing.

Accepting his offer of resignation this week, the CPPIB board issued a statement that lauded Machin’s performance, international perspective, and “outstanding leadership” as CEO.

In-depth reporting on the innovation economy from The Logic, brought to you in partnership with the Financial Post.

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Eddie McGuire both praised and criticised following resignation as Collingwood president


While some AFL figures are mourning the departure of Collingwood president Eddie McGuire, those who signed an open letter calling for his head say his exit presents an opportunity for change in the sport and society.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan today described McGuire’s decision to step down a week after an internal Collingwood report found the club guilty of “systemic racism” as “courageous”.

The club has pledged to adopt 18 recommendations within the report, including developing proactive measures to combat racism.

“I think Ed put his family and his footy club first,” McLachlan told Melbourne radio station 3AW.

“That work was going to be more easily done and more successfully done with him leaving.

“His influence and impact on Collingwood and Australian Rules can’t be underestimated.

McGuire’s emotional departure on Tuesday afternoon came in the wake of him apologising for describing the release of the report as a “historic” and “proud” day for the club.

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Eddie McGuire announces he will step down as Collingwood president early.

It was to be McGuire’s final gaffe while president of Collingwood, a club he took the reins of in 1998.

McGuire, a television and radio show host, had previously been forced to apologise for making offensive comments about Indigenous AFL star Adam Goodes, joking about drowning journalist Caroline Wilson, and mocking Cynthia Banham, an academic with a disability who tossed the coin at a match he was commentating on.

McGuire’s decision to quit was today welcomed by some of the Indigenous leaders and other signatories of a widely circulated open letter that said the long-term president was “incapable of leading the Collingwood Football Club through any meaningful transformation”.

Victorian Greens senator Lidia Thorpe said McGuire’s departure was “overdue”.

“The pain that I saw in Eddie’s eyes and the tears that I saw from Eddie, we actually refer to them as ‘white tears’,” she said.

“It’s great that he’s had the courage to come out and own what he’s perpetrated for a number of years.”

Francis Awaritefe, an English-born black footballer who played for the Socceroos, said racism was an issue that transcended the AFL.

“I think his resignation is welcome, I think it [was] needed in order to undertake this substantive change that needed to happen,” Awaritefe told ABC Radio Melbourne.

“I think this is an opportunity now for Australian sporting institutions to make a commitment … to respect and embed human rights in accordance with recognised human rights standards.”

Magpies greats praise McGuire

Collingwood greats Peter McKenna and Tony Shaw were vocal in their defence of McGuire, both describing him as a great club president.

“I think it’s been a real witch-hunt to be quite honest,” McKenna told ABC Radio Melbourne.

A former AFL player and coach stands in a suit at a funeral service at the MCG.
Tony Shaw, who coached Collingwood in the 1990s, praised Eddie McGuire’s presidency but said he was right to leave now.(AAP: Julian Smith)

Shaw, a former Collingwood captain and coach, described McGuire as “one of the best presidents in history”.

“Eddie wasn’t just great for Collingwood, he did a lot of things for other clubs too,” he said on radio station SEN1116.

“I think the timing was right. He put the club first.”

On Instagram, former Collingwood player Dayne Beams defended McGuire’s legacy and described him as a “genuinely good person”.

In a statement, the Collingwood Football Club highlighted McGuire’s football success, but also praised social initiatives undertaken during his tenure.

“A succession plan had already commenced … the board will meet to expedite the process of selecting a successor,” it said.

‘I wish him well’: Andrews does not regret support for McGuire

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he did not regret earlier declaring his support for McGuire.

“He’s made a decision. He’s explained why he’s done that. I wish him well,” Mr Andrews said.

“I think his statement speaks for itself. I’m not going to interpret that.”

McGuire’s brother Frank is a longstanding member of Mr Andrews’s Labor Government in Victoria.

Former Collingwood player Héritier Lumumba, whose allegations of racism helped spark the review, accused Mr Andrews of caring “more about one man’s ego than fighting racism”.

On Wednesday, a reporter asked Mr Andrews if he abandoned his principles when “a mate needs a chop out”.

Mr Andrews said he rejected suggestions he was interested in looking after “white mates”.

“People are entitled to their views,” he said.

On Tuesday, Mr Andrews had said McGuire, saying he was “equal to that task” of stamping racism out of Collingwood.

He denounced racism as toxic and said it was present throughout society.

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Héritier Lumumba takes ‘no pleasure’ in Eddie McGuire’s resignation, calls for Collingwood to implement recommendations


Former Collingwood player Héritier Lumumba has said he takes no pleasure in Eddie McGuire’s resignation, and the club still has a lot work to do to rectify “the train wreck” that was his final two press conferences.

In his first interview since McGuire’s emotional departure from president on Tuesday afternoon, Lumumba spoke to Virginia Trioli.

He said the end of McGuire’s 23-year reign as Collingwood boss was “not something personal”.

“This isn’t about me or me being a victim and it’s certainly not about me celebrating or being pleased with… people losing their job or having to step down,” he said.

But he said the resignation showed an “important development” in how the country tackled discrimination.

“There are new precedents that are being set in the way that Australian society deals with racism,” he said.

Lumumba’s allegations of racism at Collingwood helped spark the ‘Do Better’ review, which found the club guilty of systemic racism.

McGuire came under fire for a press conference the day the report was leaked to the media in which he called it a “proud” day for the organisation.

“I think what needs to happen immediately is that Collingwood has to rectify the train wreck that was the previous two press conferences,” Lumumba said.

He said McGuire’s resignation after decades at the helm did not mean the rest of the club would change.

Lumumba said the report had talked about a number of serious issues at Collingwood, including a culture of systemic racism; the denial of complaints about racism and the punishment of those that came forward; and the presence of individuals at the club who wielded an unhealthy degree of influence.

“Now, none of these things have been addressed, yet, by the Collingwood Football Club,” he said.

“So far what has been communicated since this report was released has been that the club should be commended for being brave and courageous for commissioning the report,” he said.

“There has been no accountability for the serious harm that the club has caused and there has been really no ownership of that, and until we see that unfortunately we can’t really progress.

“What the report states is that the club has to engage in 18 different recommendations, it is all laid out there.”

Lumumba challenges board over McGuire ‘racist club’ denial

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Lumumba expanded on his reaction with a series of Twitter posts on Thursday morning.

“CFC (Collingwood Football Club) is in the same position it was in before Eddie [McGuire] left,” he tweeted.

“There has still been no proper response to the report. Now the club has the further burden of responding to Eddie’s parting comments. Do they accept his assertion that CFC is ‘not a racist club?’.”

Lumumba acknowledged the “good philanthropic work” that had been done at Collingwood, but noted the finding of the report that “racism at the club had resulted in profound and enduring harm to First Nations and African players”.

“One does not erase the other,” he posted.

The former player, who won a premiership medal with Collingwood in 2010, said the club had to stop trying to spin the findings of the report.

“Now is the time for transparency, honesty and action, as the report suggests. Otherwise the Collingwood brand will simply never recover,” he tweeted.

“Even their own players and sponsors don’t have confidence in it now.” 

Magpies announce interim co-presidents to replace McGuire

The club released a statement saying the Collingwood board had met on Wednesday and approved club directors Peter Murphy and Mark Korda to act as interim co-presidents, replacing McGuire.

“The board believes that there are a number of high quality internal candidates and wishes to consider external candidates for the vacancy.

“In replacing both the president and the casual vacancy role, the board wants time to determine what further professional expertise it wishes to bring to the board table,” Collingwood said in the statement.

Club director Christine Holgate will chair the process to find someone to take on the permanent role as president.

The process began following McGuire’s announcement at a Collingwood fan forum last December that he would leave his role at the end of 2021.

The process is expected to be completed within eight weeks.

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Former Collingwood player Tony Armstrong responds to Eddie McGuire's resignation




Commentator and former Collingwood player Tony Armstrong spoke to Patricia Karvelas on ABC’s Afternoon Briefing.

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'Collingwood Fans Care' responds to Eddie McGuire's resignation




Eddie McGuire has announced he will stand down as president of Collingwood Football Club.

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Olympique de Marseille coach Andre Villas-Boas offers resignation after spat


Olympique de Marseille coach Andre Villas-Boas said on Tuesday that he had offered his resignation, citing a disagreement over the Ligue 1 club’s sporting policy.

“I submitted my resignation saying that I did not agree with the sporting policy. I don’t want anything from OM. I don’t want money,” Villas-Boas told a news conference.

Villas-Boas, who said last month he would leave when his contract expired at the end of the season, said he had not heard back from the board yet.

“The board has not answered to me yet. What happened last weekend has nothing to do with it,” the Portuguese said, referring to Saturday’s incidents in Marseille, where some fans broke into the club’s training centre amid protests against president Jacques-Henri Eyraud.

“I’m waiting for an answer, it could be no and then we would continue. I don’t want any money, I just want to leave.

“We ended the transfer window with a new player (Olivier Ntcham from Celtic Glasgow). He is a player that I had said no for,” Villas-Boas added.

Marseille, who were knocked out in the group stage of the Champions League, are ninth in Ligue 1, 16 points behind leaders Lille with two games in hand.



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Belarus Protesters Demand Lukashenko’s Resignation


Protesters in Belarus weathered icy conditions Sunday, hitting the streets to demand the resignation of authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko who is facing down months of historic protests against his rule.

The Viasna rights group said dozens of people were detained in Minsk as authorities deployed water cannon and large numbers of law enforcement blocked off areas of the city centre. 

Demonstrators waving the opposition’s red and white flag marched on the outskirts of the capital to thwart a large-scale police crackdown.

The opposition-leaning news site Nasha Niva said protesters had organised at least 100 separate gatherings in Minsk and its suburbs.

An AFP correspondent said that unlike previous weekend protests that spurred tens of thousands into the city centre, metro stations were open Sunday and mobile internet was working without interruptions.

Ex-Soviet Belarus has been gripped by historic anti-government demonstrations that erupted after August presidential elections in which Lukashenko claimed a sixth term in office.

His opponents claim the polls were rigged and that political novice Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who ran in place of her jailed husband was the true winner. 

Tikhanovskaya, who is in exile in neighbouring Lithuania, hailed protesters who had gathered “despite repressions, violence and cold. 

“They resist Lukashenko’s regime because the people of Belarus want to live in a democratic and free country,” she wrote on Twitter.

The European Union imposed sanctions on Lukashenko and his allies citing election rigging and a violent police crackdown on protesters. 

On Thursday, Belarus said it will temporarily close its land border in late December to curb the spread of the coronavirus, a move seen by the opposition as a further clampdown on dissent.



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Clamour for Resignation of Australian Envoy to India Gathers Steam After RSS Headquarters Visit



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Australia’s High Commissioner to India Barry O’Farrell’s last month meeting with Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat, a close ally of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has raised eyebrows in his home country. The visit has been described as running contrary to “Australian values”.

A section of Indian social media users has backed demands for pulling out Australia’s High Commissioner to India Barry O’Farrell over his visit last month to the headquarters of the Hindu nationalist outfit Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), the ideological parent of the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

While O’Farrell’s visit to the central Indian city of Nagpur on 15 November had already been a subject of critical commentary both in Indian and Australian media, following his meeting with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Greens party Senator Janet Rice also raised the issue in the federal parliament.

In a tweet, the Australian envoy to India shared how the RSS has supported society at large, and during his meeting with the RSS chief, the latter threw light upon their organisation’s efforts amid pandemic.

His move was widely criticised in Australia. The Australian senator from Victoria state in her speech described the RSS as a “fascist organisation which openly admits admiration for Adolf Hitler” and that “…they demonise and encourage persecution of some of the non-Hindu citizens of India”, Rice told the Australian parliament.

​Scores of Indian netizens on Thursday tweeted calls for #Barrymustresign, as they cited Rice’s remarks against the RSS.

The calls for the resignation of O’Farrell, who was posted to India this year, come amid a warming of ties between New Delhi and Canberra. The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) participated in the four-nation Malabar naval drills earlier this year, after pulling out of the defence exercise in 2008 owing to reservations expressed by Beijing.

The naval drills also comprised Japan, the US, and India, with the alliance of four countries informally referred to as the “Quad”.

In an interview with an Indian daily in October, O’Farrell described his country’s 2008 decision to pull out of four-nation exercise as a “mistake”.

In a virtual bilateral summit this year, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison also elevated their countries’ relationship to “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership”, another indication of bolstering security ties.

‘Believe in the Indian Constitution’

“Officially, the RSS has no involvement in politics. We are just a cultural organisation. If any political party can adopt our policies for the benefit of the nation, that would be more than welcome”, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said at the end of a two-day volunteer meeting in Ghaziabad city last month.

“We believe in the Indian Constitution and abide by it”, Bhagwat stated.

The RSS has often found itself facing heat directed at its ideologue and second chief M.S. Gowalkar, who is credited with popularising the institution across the country after independence in 1947.

A visit to the RSS headquarters by Germany’s Ambassador to India Walter Linder in June last year attracted similar criticism. In his defence, the German envoy reportedly described the RSS as a “mass movement” and a “mosaic that made up India”.





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Centre’s district organisation in Finnish Lapland calls for resignation of Kiuru


THE DISTRICT ORGANISATION of the Centre in Finnish Lapland has issued a statement calling for the resignation of Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP).

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the statement claims, has put the domestic travel industry between a rock and a hard place by insisting on restrictions so strict that local tourism operators are facing revenue losses of hundreds of millions of euros.

Another reason for the radical demand is Länsi-Pohja Central Hospital in Kemi, Western Lapland. The hospital continues to wait for a decision on the extension of its special permit for birthing operations, which is set to expire at the end of 2020.

“We think Kiuru’s actions in this regard are peculiar,” the district organisation said in the statement issued on Sunday.

Kiuru declined to comment on the demand when reached yesterday by Helsingin Sanomat. Minister of Science and Culture Annika Saarikko, the chairperson of the Centre, tweeted that she does not subscribe to the demand made by the district organisation, estimating that the resignation would do little to facilitate an agreement on border issues.

“Lapland lives from tourism,” she acknowledged. “The coronavirus is limiting these business activities severely. The government has to do whatever it can. The border issues must be solved, with health the priority, while using common sense.”

Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä (Centre) viewed that the district organisation is venting its frustration with what remains an “extremely difficult situation” in Lapland.

“The way to take care of these kinds of things as a district organisation is not to start demanding that certain ministers step down. These problems must be solved collaboratively within the government,” he stressed.

Markus Lohi (Centre), a third-term Member of the Finnish Parliament from Rovaniemi, said the demand is a “very radical measure” but also a “big cry for help” for the tourism industry in Lapland.

“The situation here is very dramatic. I want to underline that the Centre as a whole is not demanding that anyone resign,” he commented to Helsingin Sanomat.

Members of the Finnish Parliament, including those from the district organisation, expressed their confidence in Kiuru in October, reminded Antti Lindtman, the chairperson of the Social Democratic Parliamentary Group. Kiuru and the government, he added, also deserve praise for the fact that the epidemiological situation in Finland is the best in the European Union.

“What’s going on inside the Centre? Has the Lapland district moved to the opposition?” he asked.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT



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Peru’s Congress Fails to Appoint New Interim Government In Wake of Merino’s Resignation



BUENOS AIRES (Sputnik) – Peru’s Congress failed to appoint a new interim president after Manuel Merino announced his resignation on Sunday, following mass anti-government protests.

“The result of the first vote was 42 votes in favor, 52 against and 25 abstentions. The virtual session was suspended,” a statement, released on the official Twitter account of Peru’s Congress late on Sunday, says.

In a separate tweet, the Congress released the list of candidates that was up for a vote during the Sunday emergency session. Rocio Silva Santisteban was proposed as interim president, while Francisco Sagasti Hochhausler, as interim first vice president.

Peruvian Congress chairman Manuel Merino, who had assumed the duties of the country’s interim president, announced his resignation on Sunday, after several days of mass protests.

Earlier in the day, 13 of the 18 ministers of the new Peruvian government resigned in protest against police brutality during the mass demonstrations that started in the country after Congress decided to impeach President Martin Vizcarra over bribery allegations, which he denies.

On Saturday, at least two people were killed and nearly 100 were injured during mass protests in Peru against the impeachment of Vizcarra. More than 60 of the injured were hospitalised. Police reportedly used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds.

The Peruvian Constitutional Court demanded on Sunday that police conduct a search for over 40 people who remain missing following the protests.

According to local media reports, Peruvian rights groups have filed a complaint with the prosecutor’s office accusing Merino and Prime Minister Antero Flores-Araoz of murder and abuse of power. Complaints were also submitted against several police officials and the interior minister, the RPP broadcaster said on Sunday.

Peru’s Congress impeached Vizcarra over corruption and bribery in a 105-19 vote on Monday, November 9. In mid-September, Vizcarra already made it through one impeachment vote, which was initiated over his alleged abuse of power for giving away controversial state contracts. Less than a month after that, he was confronted with new charges of bribery and corruption.





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