The House of Commons will debate lowering the federal voting age in Canada from 18 to 16 years of age on Wednesday.
NDP MP Taylor Bachrach initially introduced Bill C-210, an Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (voting age), on Dec. 13, 2021. Wednesday’s debate will be the bill’s second reading.
“We should all be concerned that voter turnout in Canada continues to be lowest among the youngest voters and this bill seeks to improve that by forming voting habits while young people are still in school,” said Bachrach at the House of Commons after introducing the bill.
“This bill is also about recognizing the rights of young people to participate in democracy,” he added.
Young Canadians sue federal government in call to lower voting age
If the bill does pass, it means that every person who is a Canadian citizen and is 16 years of age or older on polling day would be qualified as an elector.
Before the bill was introduced in December 2021, several young Canadians took the federal government to court in an effort to strike down the minimum voting age.
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The youth ranged in age from 12 to 18 years and came from all across the nation, including several from Nova Scotia and as far away as Nunavut.
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They argued that the Canada Elections Act, which hinders citizens under the age of 18 from voting in federal elections, is in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which states that every Canadian has the right to vote.
The youth said in their application that being denied the right to vote “perpetuates stereotypical and prejudicial attitudes that young people are less capable and less deserving of participating in Canadian democracy through the voting process.”
Those qualifications aren’t imposed on those older than 18, they claim.
“Vague and unsubstantiated assertions about maturity are not enough to justify depriving a large portion of Canadian society their core political right,” the claim said.
Other countries that have lowered their voting age to 16 include Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Germany, Scotland and Wales.
– with files from The Canadian Press and Global News’ Amber Fryday
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