UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds
Saucy McCuddle and Chuddie McFuddle inside a Calgary voting station. Photo by Carolyn Pogue

No laughing matter

Clowning around on election day

By Carolyn Pogue

I don’t know who voted in the rest of Canada, but in Calgary a couple of clowns cast their ballots. Honest. It started as a bit of a joke, but clowning can be serious business, especially as it relates to children. During the run-up to the election, I listened for a debate on child poverty, on water and school conditions in Aboriginal communities. It was like listening for the sound of a snowflake.

At the all-candidates’ meeting I attended (all candidates, but one), I did manage to raise the issue of child poverty, but generally, it was apparently of little concern. And that concerns me. In 1989, all parties agreed to end child poverty by the year 2000. Eleven years past deadline and we’re nowhere. UNICEF Canada says that one in 10 Canadian children, and one in four First Nations children still live in poverty.

So when I heard that Saucy McCuddle and Chuddie McFuddle were casting ballots, I knew they’d be voting for candidates they believe will honour children. Children, for example, like the students in Attawapiskat, on James Bay, who have been waiting a decade for a new elementary school.  

Saucy McCuddle and Chuddie McFuddle laugh a lot. In their other lives, Fif Fernandes and life partner Hamish Boyd are actors, founders of Laughing Peace and Laughter Yoga Canada. The day before the election I watched their celebration of World Laughter Day: 50 or 60 people laughing in a park. That neighbourhood will never be the same again!

In another persona, Fif works as a therapeutic clown at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. Illness is no laughing matter; yet, kids, parents, and staff attest to the healing that laughter can bring.  

A child once whispered to Fif’s clown persona, “People don’t care about you when you’re poor.  It’s kinda embarrassing.”  

Hamish says, “Most of my life, I’ve not been political, but this time I was moved and motivated to do something different. I am realizing that key issues are being swept under the carpet and ignored. I wonder how the political landscape would change if children were given the right to vote?”

“Kids share fears and secrets with clowns and puppets,” says Fif. “Not having enough to eat or not knowing where you will sleep are huge fears. It’s crucial to give voice to children and teens.  Canada is one of 192 countries that signed the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child. Article 4 states, ‘You have a right to special care and protection and to good food, housing and medical services.’ As a voting adult, I must be accountable and bring light to the situation in whatever way I can.”

Throughout time, and around the world, clowns have played a particular role. They call our attention to folly, help us restore balance, entertain, minister, educate and heal us. Clowns can also remind us that the powerful, after all, are just human.






Author's photo
Carolyn Pogue is a longtime Observer contributor. New posts of The Pogue Blog will appear on the first and third Thursday of the month. For more information on Carolyn Pogue, visit www.carolynpogue.ca..
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!
Promotional Image


David Wilson%


by David Wilson

If statues could talk

Promotional Image


ObserverDocs: Stolen Mother

by Observer Staff

The daughter and adoptive mother of one of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women share their story

Promotional Image


July 2017

From far and wide

by Various Writers

Meet 11 immigrants who are putting down new roots


June 2017

A suitcase for Cuba

by Christopher Levan

You’ll find more than giveaway toiletries and hand-me-downs in the writer's luggage. Each carefully chosen gift offers a glimpse into the lives of Cubans today.


June 2017


by Kristy Woudstra

Up to half a million people are living in Canada without official status. The ‘sanctuary city’ movement is growing, but the fear of deportation persists.


June 2017

Resisting genocide

by Sally Armstrong

In August 2014, ISIS attacked Iraq’s Yazidis, slaughtering thousands and forcing women and girls into sexual slavery. Today, the survivors are fighting for their ancient way of life.


April 2017

Dear Grandkids

by Various Writers

Six acclaimed Canadian authors write letters from the heart


March 2017

Called to resist

by Paul Wilson

Liberal Christians in the United States test their faith against a demagogue

Promotional Image