Thread: Voting age
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Old July 23rd, 2005, 05:38 AM  
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Name: Kodie
Join Date: June 30, 2004
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Toronto - Thirty years ago Canada lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. Now a movement is growing to extend the vote to 16-year-old Canadians.

Ontario MP Mark Holland (Liberal - Ajax-Pickering), who has introduced a private member's bill in Parliament, says 16-year-olds, can drive, pay taxes and be charged with adult crimes. So why can't they vote?

A delegation of MPs from all federal parties has been touring Canada, campaigning in support of the change. Besides Holland, other MPs carrying the message include Nathan Cullen (NDP - Skeena-Bulkley Valley), Stephane Bergeron (Bloc Quebecois - Vercheres-Les Patriotes) and Belinda Stronach (Conservative - Newmarket-Aurora).

"We're trying to get you at 16 to dramatically increase the odds of you voting for life," Cullen says. "If you vote for life, you tend to pay attention to the issues, you tend to care about what's happening, you follow a little bit more, you read past the first page of the newspaper, you do a touch of research before you go in and vote, and then it matters."

Bill C-261, which came up for reading in February, is supported by at estimated 20 MPs and the number is growing steadily. The proposal is expected to come up for debate again in April.

"I think (16-year-olds) deserve a voice," says Holland. "I've been incredibly taken by the comments and the level of intellect and care that young people have." NUPGE

"But the question remains: if criminals can vote, and stupid people can vote, why the hell can’t a 16-year-old? As it stands now only about half the Canadians who are eligible bother showing up on election day, so is not like we don't have the room. If I was 16, I would write my Member Parliament and I would complain. Except if I was 16, they wouldn't care what I had to say, because I don't have the vote, which is the problem. Which is why the federal government should change this law, because the bottom line is, if we allow young people to vote, they may decide that they like it. They could become hooked. Next thing you know, they could become addicted to democracy, which is good for all of us. This is not rocket science here. This is called getting them while they’re young. Hell, the cigarette companies and the beer companies got that figured out. Why can't the Government of Canada?"

The Edmonton Journal, Editorial, January 14, 2005:
“While lowering the voting age is only one small component of addressing the much larger ‘democratic deficit’ bemoaned by politicians of late, it is certainly a good place to start. The private member's bill, sponsored by Ontario Liberal MP Mark Holland, would still require political candidates to be 18 years old, but would allow Canadians to cast ballots when they turned 16…

“We allow 16-year-olds to drive, marry, leave school to work and pay taxes. At 17 they can join the military. Surely it is reasonable to expect Canadians competent in those areas to engage in this most fundamental exercise of democracy.”


Ike Awgu, Comment, The Ottawa Sun, January 12, 2005:

“If we let stupid adults vote, why not smart 16-year-olds? The argument that people below the age of 18 should not be allowed to vote because they ‘lack the ability to make informed and intelligent decisions’ is only a legitimate argument if it’s applied to all citizens. We allow alcoholics, neurotics, psychotics, fanatics, and even prisoners to vote. Heck, although I could be mistaken, I think we even allow people hospitalized with severe mental illness to vote. Why then, not smart 16-year-olds?”


Colin Feasby, Arguments, The Ottawa Citizen, January 11, 2005
The Edmonton Journal, January 8, 2005:

“Just as it is a false assumption for the law to assume that all mentally disabled individuals are incapable of casting a rational and informed ballot, it is wrong for the law to assume that 16- and 17-year-olds are incapable of casting a rational and informed ballot. Young citizens, as Fitzgerald and Jairamsingh demonstrated in their evidence before the court, can be every bit as rational and informed as older citizens. Indeed, there are scholarly articles that suggest that voters over 18 as a group are not particularly rational or informed. There is truth in the words of Plautus, the Roman playwright, who wrote, ‘Not by age but by disposition is wisdom acquired.’ …

“There are also larger reasons for giving children under 18 the right to vote. First, giving young people the vote might help to ingrain democracy as a way of life and, over time, increase political participation throughout the population. Second, young voters promise to renew and replenish our democracy with different perspectives…”


The Globe and Mail, Editorial, January 10, 2005:

“Canada may not let them legally drink alcohol, but it lets them drive cars (with graduated licences), lets them marry, invites them to join the army (at 17), requires them to pay income tax on the part-time jobs they are considered responsible enough to take, and reserves the option of trying them in adult court. It is argued that most of them betray little political interest. One answer is that many adults betray little political interest, and that doesn't deny them a vote if they wish it. Another answer is that, if their ability to influence events through the ballot box were more than theoretical at 16, many more of them might well take an interest.”


The Daily News (Halifax), Perspective, January 9, 2005:

“THUMBS DOWN to an Alberta court and the Supreme Court of Canada for rebuffing the appeal of two 16-year-olds who were trying to get the voting age in Canada lowered. In other cases, courts in our country have been willing to step in and be proactive, telling Parliament what they think our laws should be. If a person is old enough to drive a car, then they're old enough to vote. One can cause a lot more damage by improperly handling a motor vehicle than by casting a vote. To boot, underage people are permitted to go to war and die for our country. Let them vote. If not, then raise the other standards so that they're all the same.”


Les MacPherson, The Star-Phoenix (Saskatoon), January 8, 2005:

Finally, the Supreme Court this week refused to hear an appeal to lower the voting age. The case involved two Alberta teenagers who wanted the age lowered to 16 from 18. They argued, not unreasonably, that if they're old enough to drive or to join the army, they're old enough to vote.

As usual, the court gave no reasons for dismissing the teenagers’ appeal. I wish parents could get away with that.

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