Floyd McCormick, a clerk in the legislative assembly, poses for a photo in the Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Jan. 8. McCormick is set to retire this May after about 18 years. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Legislative assembly clerk Floyd McCormick to retire this spring

‘It’s the best job I’ve ever had, and it’s not something I ever anticipated I would be doing’

Floyd McCormick gravitated towards working as a clerk in the legislative assembly because he could be part of the action to a degree without getting his hands dirty.

“It’s the best job I’ve ever had, and it’s not something I ever anticipated I would be doing,” he told the News in an interview. “It’s something people tend to fall into in some indirect fashion.”

McCormick, who is set to retire after the spring sitting, which wraps up in the early May, is retiring after about 18 years. He started out, in 2001, as a deputy clerk on a term position, then was promoted to a full-timer in 2004. Three years later, McCormick was appointed as one of two clerks, succeeding Patrick Michael.

McCormick is interested in politics but not the flashy, partisan type — he keeps his politics close to his chest, and he prefers it that way.

He calls being a clerk “the narrow slice of politics” in its neutrality.

“You can be right on the ground floor, literally, in terms of sitting there in the House while the various debates are going on. It’s very interesting to be in that position, although, in some sense, you’re a bit of a bystander because you don’t really control what’s going on,” said McCormick, who has a PhD in political science. “Your job is to facilitate the actions of others.”

The trick is to keep a low profile, he said, because maintaining one means everything is working as it should.

“If you know who the clerk is, that probably means there’s something going on that shouldn’t be going on,” McCormick said, noting that it’s a team effort when it comes to ensuring things run smoothly and protocols are followed.

The tasks clerks are responsible for are, daily: preparing the House’s order paper, tracking records in the Hansard and journals. The legislature’s website, for instance, McCormick said, would have been completely unrecognizable a dozen years ago.

“A lot of it is just continuous work that has to be done in order to make sure that the place functions effectively, and I think we’ve done that,” he said.

“No matter what you do, there’s going to be unfinished business once you leave. You try to tie up as many loose ends as you can, but it’s just the nature of the job.”

McCormick seems to appreciate consistency — he’s a bit of a fixture himself at the legislature, watching MLAs come and go, and much quicker compared to other places in the country.

The longest serving MLA, he said, is the Yukon Party’s Brad Cathers, who’s been serving since 2002.

“There haven’t been many changes at the top in that formal sense, but there’s been quite a bit of turnover, in terms of MLAs themselves,” McCormick said. “In most legislative assemblies, there are members who have been there for 20 to 30 years. That isn’t the case around here.”

With a dash of humour, McCormick tells people he’s going to write a book in his retirement about all the things he should have known at the beginning of his career at the legislature — hindsight is 20/20, perhaps.

“Gaining a perspective on things and an understanding about how you can handle a situation better if you’d known more when you were making that decision, but that’s life I guess,” he said. “We’ll see if that project actually gets off the ground and in what form.”

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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