Elizabeth introduces Bill C-401 to lower the voting age to 16

Elizabeth May

Mr. Speaker, it is my great honour to introduce a new bill today. Bill C-401 will lower the voting age in Canada and create a system in which young people can vote once they turn 16.

The objective of this legislation is to increase voter turnout among young people in Canada. Across a number of western democracies, voter turnout is the weakest in the demographic where voting matters the most, the people on whose lives the decisions will have the most impact. Young people in Canada, ages 18 to 24, vote the least. Research has shown that if they start voting at a younger age they will continue voting longer. If someone has not started voting before the age of 25, that individual will not start voting at 30. The evidence is clear.

The goal of this amendment to the Canada Elections Act is to give young people the right to vote at the age of 16, knowing that in the context of still being in high school, still being at home, and being in their own community, they are more likely to vote.

I hope the House will look on this bill favourably. Some small adjustments will need to be made based on Bill C-76, which was tabled in the House yesterday.