moved for leave to introduce Bill C-634, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (voting age).
Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce a bill that would lower the voting age in federal elections to 16. I believe this is an important step that will 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. 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 amongst young people. Lowering the voting age to 16 would ensure that new voters are in high school in their first election. This would permit a reinvigorated civics education in our schools, making young people better aware of political issues, the 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, including Austria, Brazil and Nicaragua. I hope this bill spurs a much needed conversation about improving democracy and voter participation in Canada.
I seek the support of all my colleagues to add to that important democratic debate.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)