Election time is upon us here in Canada, and all political parties have been quick off the mark with takes on the usual promises to the electorate. Among the more intersting debates that emerged during the first few weeks of the campaign centred on the notion of lowering the legal voting age to 16.
In a country where 16 year olds have many rights and responsibilities already, it is unfortunate that Canada has not yet extended the right to vote to this group of citizens. With voter turnout rates expected to be at record lows for January’s election, Canada needs seriously examine how to get more people participating in one of the essential hallmarks of a democracy. By encouraging 16 year olds to vote, especially while they are in high school and can be educated on the democratic process, it is hoped that youth may be encouraged to participate in democracy at an earlier age, and for a lifetime.
A Member of Parliament during the last session put forth a private members’ bill that would have lowered the voting age to 16. The bill was defeated in June, but he has used the current campaign to promote this important idea once again. Vote16.ca is a website dedicated to “engaging Canada’s youth in politics,” specifically through lowering the legal voting age to 16.