Private member's bill aims to lower federal voting age to 16
'They deserve the right to have their say in the future of our country,' Davies says
A Vancouver Member of Parliament wants to reduce the legal voting age to 16, arguing that young people often work, pay taxes and take a keen interest in their country's future.
Don Davies, the NDP member for Vancouver Kingsway, introduced a private member's bill on Thursday in the House of Commons to amend the Canada Elections Act to lower the legal voting age from the current 18.
In a statement, Davies said Bill C-213 "is about trusting young Canadians with the right to participate in our democratic decision making.
"Young Canadians often work, pay taxes and have a vital interest in the way they are governed," Davies said. "They deserve the right to have their say in the future of our country, and Canada needs their perspective."
In his remarks in the House of Commons, Davies noted that "at one time only men could vote, only men with property.
"Women could not vote, First Nations could not vote, and people had to be 21 years of age," he said.
Vote early, vote often
"Studies show that if we can get individuals voting early and in their very first election in which they're qualified, then they'll tend to vote for the rest of their lives.
"Other reasons include a lot of young people 16 and 17 years of age, they work, they pay taxes yet they have no say in how they are spent."
He noted that countries like Scotland, Brazil and Austria have enfranchised voters younger than 18. In 2014, Scotland permitted young people 16 and up to vote in a landmark independence referendum.
This is the second time Davies has attempted to lower the voting age. He introduced a similar private member's bill in 2013, but it didn't pass.
In an interview Friday, Davies said he's confident his initiative will have a better chance with the new Liberal government, which has signaled it intends to bring in electoral reform.
In fact, Davies said one of the Liberal members of the electoral reform committee told him on Thursday the government intends to consider the voting age in its examination of potential electoral changes.
"I'm more optimistic that this will get a fairer hearing," Davies said.