Saskatchewan

13-year-old from Saskatoon joins nationwide effort to lower voting age in Canada

''I feel like my voice is no longer silent'' - Milan Rozzoto-Lagos

Milan Rozzoto-Lagos believes young Canadians should take charge of their future

Milan Rozzoto-Lagos, 13, wants the voting age to be lowered to 16. (CBC)

Milan Rozzoto-Lagos, 13, wants to vote and she doesn't want to wait until she's 18.

The Saskatoon resident has joined a group of 12 other young Canadians from across the country who are challenging the government to lower Canada's minimum age for voting in federal elections.

The group launched a court challenge at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in late November. 

Rozzoto-Lagos wants the age to be lowered to 16, but the court case in itself is based around the fact that an age requirement itself is unconstitutional.

Charter rights

The group believe it's unconstitutional to limit voting to those who are 18 and older. To them, the rule is in violation of two sections of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms: Section 3, which states that "every citizen of Canada" has the right to vote in an election for members of the House of Commons or a legislative assembly; and Section 15, which states that "every individual is equal before and under the law."

The last time the federal voting age was changed was in 1970 when it was lowered from 21 to 18.

Rozzoto-Lagos's passion for politics drove her to take a stand on the voting rights of minors.

She is inspired by young advocates like Greta Thunberg, the 18-year-old climate activist from Sweden who's gained attention in the past few years by challenging world leaders.

Rozzoto-Lagos believes strongly that young people need to have more of a say in their future. 

''I think we should be able to vote cause we have a more broader perspective, not just a one-sided case," Rozzoto-Lagos said, adding that lowering the voting age could entice more young people to cast a ballot.

''I think it's like my generation's responsibility to stand up for our rights but also stand up for other people's rights and causes," she said.

Just how far is Rozzoto-Lagos ready to take this? She said she's ready to go all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada if the Ontario Superior Court rejects the group's application.

Although it could be several months before a decision is rendered, the challenge is supported by lawyers from Justice for Children and Youth and the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights at the University of Toronto, as well as other national youth organizations, including UNICEF Canada and the Students Commission of Canada.

With files from Gregory Wilson

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