A Vancouver MP introduced a new bill to Parliament on Thursday morning calling to lower the voting age to 16 years old.
Vancouver Kingsway NDP MP Don Davies thinks young people are more engaged than they’ve ever been when it comes to politics and wants to see them have a voice, hence introducing Bill C-213 to Parliament.
“The expansion of the franchise has been happening over the last hundred years. Originally the voting age was 21, it was restricted to men,” Davies told Vancity Buzz.
“Gradually women got the vote, First Nations got the vote, we lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 and I think it’s time to lower it to 16.”
Davies believes lowering the voting age will set the tone for young people to continue voting throughout their lives, especially considering voter turnout among young people is below 50 per cent.
“A lot of 16 and 17-year-olds work and pay taxes. If they have no representation about how tax dollars are spent – it’s just a great way to get a young person’s voice represented in our country’s democracy,” he said.
In summer of 2015, Scotland voted in a referendum to lower the voting age to 16, and Davies cites that as a country Canada should emulate.
While naysayers might conclude that 16-year-olds are too young to be entrusted with the right to vote, Davies said he’s researched the topic extensively.
“I’ve visited numerous high schools in Vancouver and I can tell you the average 16 and 17-year-old I talked to is very engaged, very interested in the world around them and they have a stake in it.”
“I can tell you, there are a lot of 40, 50, and 60-year-olds that have a much lower level of engagement than a lot of 17-year-olds I’ve spoken to,” he said.
Davies said he’s been receiving support from other members of Parliament, including from a Liberal member of the Democratic Reform Committee who congratulated him on his efforts.
Bill C-213 likely won’t be passed into law anytime soon, as Canadians need to be consulted first, but Davies thinks we might get a decision from the government within a year.