Politics

NDP MP launches bill to lower voting age to 16

Following in the wake of a recently launched legal challenge to Canada’s federal voting age, NDP MP Taylor Bachrach has tabled a private member’s bill in the House of Commons that would extend the franchise to 16-year-olds.

The voice of Canadian youth 'deserves to be heard,' says NDP MP Taylor Bachrach

NDP MP Taylor Bachrach takes part in a press conference with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh following a caucus meeting in Ottawa on Wednesday Oct. 30, 2019. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Following in the wake of a recently launched legal challenge to Canada's federal voting age, NDP MP Taylor Bachrach has tabled a private member's bill in the House of Commons that would extend the franchise to 16-year-olds.

"I've been inspired by the young people that are taking the government to court on this topic," the B.C. MP told CBC News. "[And] over the course of my political career I've been inspired by all of the young people I've had a chance to engage with …

"There are so many intelligent, motivated, caring young people out there. I can't help but feel that their voice deserves to be heard."

The legal challenge — supported by lawyers from Justice for Children and Youth and the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights at the University of Toronto — is asking the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to rule that the current minimum voting age of 18 is an unjustifiable breach of Section 3 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which states that "every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly."

Bachrach's bill mirrors one in the Senate sponsored by Sen. Marilou McPhedran. NDP MP Don Davies has also tabled several private member's bills to lower the voting age going back to 2011, but none of those bills was brought forward for debate.

In 2005, Liberal MP Mark Holland — now the government House leader — brought forward a bill to lower the voting age to 16, but it was defeated at second reading.

WATCH: Should Canada's voting age be lowered?

Should Canada's voting age be lowered?

5 months ago
Duration 11:38
CBC News Network host John Northcott speaks with Vass Bednar from McMaster University and Lawyer, Mosi-Taylor Cole about the political awakening of Canadian youth and whether they should have more of a say in how this country is governed.

Bachrach drew the 29th spot in this month's lottery to determine when backbench MPs could bring forward private member's bills or motions. That means his bill to lower the voting age could come up for debate sometime next year.

"My sense is that every time in our country's history that we've expanded the franchise, there's been an engaged public debate and I expect the same will be on this issue," Bachrach said.

"But it's an important one and I believe there are compelling reasons to give young people a seat at the table, particularly at a time when our country is facing such consequential issues. The decisions that the federal government is making and will be making over the coming years are some of the most important ones in our country's history. And on no issue is that more true than climate change, the impacts of which today's young people are going to inherit."

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