moved for leave to introduce Bill C-213, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (voting age).
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to stand in the House to introduce a bill that would widen the franchise of this country by extending the privilege of voting to Canadians aged 16 or over, with great thanks to the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford.
The history of the franchise in this country is one of expansion. At one time only men could vote, only men with property. Women could not vote, first nations could not vote, and people had to be 21 years of age. Studies show that individuals who begin voting early in our democratic process are more likely to continue voting for the rest of their lives. We know that voter turnout is generally anywhere between 50% and 65%. Therefore, this is an important initiative to get young voters engaged in our process.
Young voters often work and pay taxes, and yet they have no representation as to how those tax dollars are spent. Voter promotion could be organized through our public education system and start off the process of engaged citizens early on in their lives. Examples of countries that do extend suffrage to 16 year olds include Austria, Brazil, Scotland, Argentina, and Equador.
I would urge all members of the House to empower young people to get their important voice expressed in the chamber so that their perspective on Canadian life can be fully expressed in our democratic process.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)