Many Canadians look forward to finally getting their driver’s licence once they reach their 16th birthday.
But one high-ranking bureaucrat says giving Canadians the right to vote at the age of 16 is an idea “worth considering” as it may combat voter apathy by bringing political conversations into schools.
Currently, the legal age to cast a vote in a federal election is 18.
Acting chief electoral officer Stéphane Perrault tells CBC News it’s a move that would get young Canadians more engaged in the political process, possibly stoking a interest that will exist throughout their lives.
“We know that Canadians who vote early in their lifetime will continue to vote, and those who don’t vote in the first few elections will tend not to vote later on,” Perrault says.
But others are less convinced that it’s such a good idea. Some critics say 16-year-old Canadians aren’t mature enough to take part in the process, and 18 is already young enough.
Really? Did anyone know what they were doing at 16? We all thought we did. No.
— Heather Lindsay (@heatwave49) March 19, 2018
Absolutely not. What does a 16 year old have to say on the world of politics? What policies are these children talking about?
— What IF? R.A.P. Music (@whatifrapmusic) March 19, 2018
With the access to the internet a 16 year old thinks s/he knows everything. This is despite not having the wisdom to understand what is real vs fake news and share opinion accordingly. 18 is must fine.
— Raj Devarajah (@DPR26) March 20, 2018
While speaking with CBC News, NDP MP Don Davies points to the other side of the argument. Many 16-year-old Canadians work and pay taxes, so shouldn’t they have a say in where that money goes?
“Young people today are more involved, engaged and plugged into what’s happening in our country and there’s no reason they shouldn’t be allowed to vote,” Davies tells CBC News.
Provinces such as British Columbia and Ontario have already seen proposals to increase the voting ages in those jurisdictions. Liberal MPP Arthur Potts calls the move a “progressive step forward” that has already been enacted in countries like Scotland and Austria.
A move like this wouldn’t be unprecedented in Canadian history. In 1970, the Canada Elections Act was revised, dropping the right to vote from the age of 21 to 18.
Canada’s elections chief notes this change can only be made my parliamentarians, but it might be one that picks up support as governments look to recruit more young voters to join their cause.
What do you think is the best way to move forward? Do you think it’s time to lower the voting age to give younger people a greater voice in politics? Will it encourage young Canadians to vote and keep coming back to the ballot box? Or would it be most wise to keep the age requirement at 18? Are these important decisions best kept in the hands of adults?
Let us know what you think by voting in our poll and sharing your opinion in the comment section.