moved for leave to introduce Bill C-368, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (voting age).
Mr. Speaker, I rise to reintroduce a bill that would lower the voting age in federal elections to 16 years. I believe this is an important step that would improve democracy and civic participation in Canada.
The history of voting rights in Canada is one of making voting increasingly accessible. Initially, only property-owning males 21 years or older were eligible to vote. Over time, women, first nations and other minorities were included. The property requirement was scrapped and the voting age was lowered to 18.
I believe it is time for a serious debate about further broadening access to our most cherished democratic rights. We must note that young people pay taxes and are subject to federal laws, and therefore, they deserve a voice in government.
Too many Canadians choose not to vote, and non-voting is epidemic among young people. Lowering the voting age to 16 years would ensure that new voters would be in high school for their first election. This would permit reinvigorated civics education in our schools, making young people better aware of political issues, their impact on their lives and the importance of voter participation in our democracy.
We note that a number of other countries allow citizens to vote at 16 years, including Austria and Brazil.
I hope the bill spurs a much needed conversation about improving democracy and voter participation in Canada. I seek the support of all of my colleagues to add to that important democratic debate.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)