Taylor Bachrach, Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP, brought his Right to Vote at 16 private member’s bill to the House of Commons on May 4.
Issues facing the nation today such as housing affordability, student debt, sustainability of the health care system, and climate change have a profound impact on young people and their futures, Bachrach said during his speech about why voter age should be lowered.
He also argued that if the voting age was changed to 16, when young people have fewer competing new experiences and responsibilities, they would develop a habit of voting which could translate into higher rates of voting in the youngest age group of voters.
“In the 2019 election, only 53.9 per cent of people 18 to 24 years old voted,” he said.
One day after Bachrach’s speech, Pierre Poilievre, Carleton MP and Conservative party leader candidate, posted a video to Twitter informing viewers that if you are 14-years-old and a party member you are eligible to vote in the upcoming Conservative party leadership race.
“Leadership elections decide which candidate will have a chance to become Canada’s Prime Minister. If the Conservatives trust 14 year olds with this decision, why won’t they let 16- and 17-year-olds vote for their MP?” Bachrach responded in a tweet, referring to Poilievre’s tweet.
The discrepancy in voter age between party leadership races and the federal election was also brought up during the House of Commons debate on May 4.
“Typically, people have to pay to join a political party in Canada to be eligible to vote in a leadership race. They do not pay to become a citizen. Let us very much hope that people do not engineer a situation where they are essentially paying for the rights and benefits of a citizen of Canada,” said Tom Kmiec, the CPC MP for Calgary Shepard.
“I don’t really understand that argument,” Bachrach said on May 6. “I don’t see how paying for a membership changes anything. It’s still an election.”
“The candidates that they select will have a chance to become the Prime Minister of Canada, the highest political office in our country, and that is a choice that all political parties entrust to 14-year-olds.”
Bachrach said he is not the first MP to address voter age, but that this is the first time in 17 years that a bill regarding the issue has made it to a second reading and received debate.
“I’m hopeful that at the very least we can get this bill off to committee,” Bachrach said.
Kaitlyn Bailey | Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
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