Vicky Mochama is a contributing columnist for The Globe and Mail.
I’m considering a career switch. Sure, working in journalism has many benefits, but almost none of them are actual health benefits. I’m looking for something more stable and respected, like becoming a mob enforcer, or even a soldier of fortune.
No, rather than waiting to inevitably not survive a round of media-industry layoffs, I’m looking for a job with guaranteed time-in and a predictable way of exiting. I have a couple years of work experience under my belt and I can capably Google how a pivot table works, so I think I’m ready for something at the executive level.
Luckily for me, there are a few positions open that fit the bill.
I hear the RCMP are looking for a new top cop after Brenda Lucki became the first woman to hold and then resign from the job. Similarly, Nicola Sturgeon – borrowing a few dance steps from the former prime minister of Aotearoa-New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern – gracefully announced last week she would bow out as Scotland’s first minister after being the first woman to hold the post, and doing so for a record eight years. Women: always at the vanguard!
(I did feel a swell of sympathy for our own Prime Minister when Ms. Ardern left. A woman a world away leaves a job, and some media side-eye Justin Trudeau asking, “So is it the stationery you need help with, or?”)
But the job I’m looking for is closer to home.
On Feb. 10, after the Toronto Star reported that he’d had an inappropriate relationship with a staffer, John Tory announced that he would be resigning as mayor. The resignation announcement followed a traditional script: a hastily assembled press conference about a man’s sexual misdeed(s), a brief but sure-to-blame-a-woman statement, followed by a swift exit from the room. But then, to the confusion of the press and the dismay of his political enemies, Mr. Tory proceeded to linger over a budget debate for a full week before officially leaving office.
John Tory cracked open a fissure in time and space: For a week in Toronto, a resignation could be said to be both in effect and not, definitely happening and clearly not – a sort of Schrödinger’s quit. From the promoter of a rail-deck park and SmartTrack, here was yet another innovation: the tantric resignation.
These announcements suggest not only the opportunity for the career of a lifetime, but also a world of possibility.
Politicians can’t be fired like regular employees; they are simply allowed to instigate some paperwork and leave, apparently whenever they choose. The only problem is that actually being a politician seems undignified, usually involving some combination of scandal, burnout or incompetence – a.k.a., the Liz Truss Trifecta. If only I could become an office-holder without sacrificing my remaining dignity.
Then, I realized I could – the best time to resign a job is immediately after starting it.
To become a politician, one simply has to become a candidate. There may yet be forms to fill and qualifications to meet, like “live in Aotearoa-New Zealand” and other such exclusionary demands, but the first step to becoming a candidate is to simply declare one’s candidacy.
After that, the only rational move is to resign at the same press conference/media availability/coffee klatch where you’ve announced your foray into politics.
The press may be confused. At this point, in the interests of openness and transparency, take no questions. Some might say that it’s premature to resign from a job that one does not technically – and surely, it’s just a technicality – have. They would be wrong. It’s exactly that kind of maverick thinking that makes for such an excellent never-ran, never-disgraced politician.
In her recent testimony to the Parliamentary ethics committee, Liberal International Trade Minister Mary Ng said that her “mistake” was not that her office awarded a government contract to a firm co-founded by a longtime friend, but that she failed to recuse herself from the decision. Many have called for her resignation, including this paper’s editorial board. But Ms. Ng’s true error has already been made: Had she wanted to fully avoid any ethical lapses, she should have resigned from office in 2017, when she first ran for it.
I’m not sure where Canada’s innovation strategy stands on time travel, so this advice is largely for future generations of politicians who grew up in the age between ICQ and Snapchat. For our current crop, though, it still isn’t too late to resign out of ennui. It is every politician’s right, even failed ones – maybe especially failed ones – to be assured of a cushy law-firm or teaching gig, maybe the occasional four-to-eight-digit speaking opportunity.
Yes, I think I’ve found the job for me. All I have to do is resign before I’ve even begun.