Source: X

A Trudeau-appointed Senator, NDP, and Green Party MPs want Canadians to accept “the science” and allow 16-year-olds to vote federally.

The campaign’s stated goal to lower the voting age is to increase long-lasting participation and political engagement in society. Still, some critics say it’s a way for left-wing politicians to garner more votes as they continue to fall flat in the polls. Young people are more likely to vote left-wing.

Senator Marilou McPhedran, whom Trudeau appointed in 2016, tabled Bill S-201 in November 2021. The bill would lower the voting age from 18 to 16. It is in its second reading and was last discussed in the Senate on Tuesday.

McPhedran credits the youth movement, Vote 16, for leading her to table the bill to lower the voting age.

“We are welcoming world experts doing research for over a decade on the impact of lowering the voting age to 16. And here’s the synopsis. Nothing bad happens. Only good things happen to democracy in every country where there has been a lowering of the federal voting age to 16,” she said at a news conference with the group in Ottawa on Wednesday.

McPhedran noted that Austria lowered the voting age to 16 in 2007 and claimed that this change only brought good results.

“We’re talking about two million 16 and 17-year-olds in Canada, almost exactly at gender parity. And so what we’re talking about is an infusion of energy and vitality into our democracy in a way that will hopefully augment the accountability,” McPhedran said. “We have so much we still have to do, and we need everybody on board.”

Also, at the summit, a youth group called the Young Politicians of Canada announced that it would review House of Commons legislation and provide feedback to politicians.

The presenters from the groups said that, in addition to raising engagement in political discourse among young people, allowing youth to vote and have a say in the House’s political process would be a learning experience for students to understand how bills work.

Critics on X argued that teenagers should not be given a say in democracy because many don’t understand how the political system works and haven’t contributed much to society.

“The science and the research is clear. Extending voting rights to 16 and 17-year-olds allows them to participate in their first election earlier in life when they’re at a less volatile stage,” said Sam Reusch, the executive director of Apathy is Boring, a group that promotes youth engagement in politics and activism.

She said that youth living at home and in a classroom setting voting for the first time improves the chance that they will vote and continue to participate in democracy long term.

Green Party MP Mike Morrice echoed this point, touting that the research backs up the claim and that his party has “long supported” lowering the voting age.

NDP MP Charlie Angus likened those who oppose lowering the voting age to Conservatives such as Pierre Poilievre, who “insisted on all kinds of voting requirements,” such as visual ID cards and proof of address.

“People (living on reserves) don’t have street addresses. It was about keeping people from voting because the people who could vote can change our country,” he said.

“For too long, the attitude’s been that young people aren’t mature enough, they’re juvenile, they’re silly. This is a way of denying the incredible energy that would come that would force politicians to wake up.”

He argued that young people who leave their houses to go to post-secondary school may not vote because they are away from their voting address, but if the age was lowered, they could have their first vote before leaving for school.

“If you miss that first vote, you may never vote,” Angus said.

“I think our democracy is troubled right now. It’s in a fragile state. Democracy is facing dangerously toxic levels of disinformation and online interference,” he said. “Young people aren’t that dumb. They will bring freshness and accountability to keep democracy alive at a time when we see it being threatened around the world…Let’s bring in the young people because they will protect it.”