There's a 'duty to consult' P.E.I. municipalities on lowering voting age, says Charlottetown mayor

·2 min read

Both the mayor of Charlottetown and the president of the Federation of Prince Edward Island Municipalities want time to consult their constituents about the possibility of lowering the provincial voting age.

Green MLA Karla Bernard introduced a private member's bill to the P.E.I. Legislature last month to lower the voting age from 18 to 16.

Mayor Philip Brown said the city should be consulted.

"The changes will not only affect the Election Act for the province, but also the Municipal Government Act," Brown said.

"There is a duty to consult here, and I think that has to be taken into account."

Steve Bruce/CBC
Steve Bruce/CBC

The bill had its second reading in the legislature on Nov. 26 and has gone to committee.

Brown expressed concern with the part of the bill stating that even if the voting age is lowered to 16, the age when someone could run as a candidate would still be 18.

"If we're trying to encourage young people or the youth to be involved, well, you know what? If you can vote, you can also run as a candidate," said Brown.

"It's like getting your car licence at 16, but you're not going to be allowed to drive until you're 18."

On Monday, Charlottetown council passed a motion to send the proposed voting age amendments to the Federation of P.E.I. Municipalities to gauge its feedback.

Federation wants discussion

"Before anything like this happens, I believe the federation should be consulted, and we haven't been so far," said Bruce MacDougall, the organization's president and a Summerside councillor.

"It's a very important topic and I believe all our municipalities should have a say in it."

MacDougall said he could reach out to each of the 59 municipalities in the federation to ask for opinions on the issue, but he would rather bring it up at the federation's AGM, which he said is "not for a while now."

"I think there should be some real good discussion around this and I believe our AGM is our best option."

In the meantime, MacDougall said the federation will be sending a letter to the leaders of the provincial Progressive Conservative, Green and Liberal parties to let them know where the organization stands on the issue.

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