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Saturday,  July 13, 2024 3:16 AM 

Heron: What part of ‘do not travel internationally’ did Mark Machin misunderstand?

Heron: What part of ‘do not travel internationally’ did Mark Machin misunderstand?
Dave Heron

Insanity is best defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

And, as of late, it is seemingly a sought-after badge of honor by government officials whether elected, appointed or hired on.

Mark Machin’s biography appears to reflect the makings of a fairly bright individual.

At the tender age of 55, Mark is the custodian of a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physiological Sciences from no less stellar an institute than Oxford.

And for the bonus round, a Bachelor of Medicine as well as a Bachelor of Surgery shingle from Cambridge – all by the age of 24.

READ MORE: A 3-day stay at "Club Fed?" Canada needs to get serious about the travel industry's future

After a year of residency, it became abundantly clear to the good doctor that 18-hour days in the ER were producing somewhat less revenue than say the offer from Goldman-Sachs, where he opted to spend the next 20 years handling investment banking.

2012 saw Dr. Mark shift gears and join up with the good folks at Canada Pension Plan, where up to Feb. 25th of this year, he held the somewhat lofty position of President and CEO of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

As a quick reminder to readers, the Canada Pension Plan is what we mere mortals look to as providing a financial security blanket once we hit that stratospheric age and are too ornery and crusty to entice an employer to keep us on the payroll.

The CPP is about as solid as an investment portfolio gets with some $476 billion dollars in assets as of Dec. 31, 2020.

If you’re a slouch, you don’t get appointed to head this fund up. You could get Governor General perhaps, but definitely not CPP.

How is it, then, that a financial Einstein such as Mark Machin had some degree of difficulty grasping the Government of Canada’s do not travel internationally advisory in the midst of a pandemic?

After all, it’s not as though there hasn’t been precedence with catastrophic career consequences for others who’d claimed to have not seen the memo.

Nonetheless, despite Dr. Mark’s intricate knowledge in the area of risk management, it seems he opted to roll the dice and risk it all on a trip to Dubai, as it was revealed last week.

Where it is said he and his wife were awarded a much sought-after shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The very same vaccine that 34 million Canadians would literally give their right arm for.

If we had ample supply.

And by the way – risk it all he did. His job, which reportedly compensated him to the tune of some $5.4 Million last year, is no more.

Gone with the wind.

Not without some level of perplexity, mind you. In a memo from the good doctor to his staff on Feb. 25 following an outing of said indiscretion by the Wall Street Journal, he apparently was disappointed with the criticism as the trip was meant to be very private.

One would expect yet another flagrant snub of the rules forced upon the great unwashed to remain private and without consequence?

I’m hopeful that the number two at CPP is a bit more adept in the field of risk management given that actual employment salary over the next year is going to have me leaning a bit harder on my CPP benefits.

And I’d hate to think that the wizards of odd in the hallowed halls of CPP are not up to speed with the concept of risk mis-management vs consequential costs.

As for the good doctor?

I’m sure they can use a hand over at the vaccine clinic from someone with a medical degree and experience in COVID vaccines.

And he does have a little time on his hands these days.

Dave Heron is Founder and General Manager of Pace Setter Travel & Tours Inc. based in Okotoks, Alberta. This article originally appeared as a blog post on  

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