Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach is frustrated by Liberal MPs who voted against his bill to lower the voting age to 16 after it was a recommendation that came out of the Liberal government’s own consultations with youth.
The Bloc Québécois, Greens and twenty Liberal MPs joined the NDP in support of the bill, but it was defeated 77 to 246 on Sept. 28, with the Conservatives and most Liberals voting against it.
“It’s disappointing to see the Liberal government consult youth and then show they’re unwilling to vote to bring their recommendations to committee,” Bachrach said.
Between 2020 and 2021 the federal government engaged with more than 900 youth across the country and published the results in Canada’s First State of Youth Report. The feedback was distilled down to 28 recommendations in six different categories.
A recommendation from the leadership and impact section states that the government must “urgently prioritize lowering the voting age for youth from 18 to 16.”
“One of the things that I hear from young people is that they feel like politicians like to engage them, but rarely show them the respect of acting on their ideas,” Bachrach said.
“And risk is that when you consult people and you engage people, but you aren’t willing to implement their ideas, it creates frustration and cynicism. That takes us in the opposite direction we need to be going.”
Despite his frustration and disappointment that the bill was rejected, Bachrach remains determined to keep trying.
“Other countries around the world have lowered their voting age and it’s resulted in more youth engagement, more voter participation and overall a stronger democracy. So just like Canada lowered its voting age from 21 to 18 in 1970, I have no doubt that eventually this change will come to pass,” Bachrach said.
Senator Marilou McPhedran is sponsoring a similar bill right now, and it is currently at its second reading. Bachrach is hopeful that bill will make its way to the House of Commons (HOC) one day and he and other supporters of the bill will have another chance to make their case.
Many of the issues that are being debated in the HOC have a significant bearing on young people’s lives and Bachrach believes that if 16- and 17-year-olds are given a vote, their voices and concerns will be taken more seriously.
“I think bringing young voices into the conversation in a more substantial way would really make us stronger as a country,” he said.
Bachrach said naysayers tell him youth do not have the maturity to vote, but he met a 17-year-old woman in Terrace who finished high school and is going to college full-time.
“She’s working and she’s living by herself, and yet she can’t vote in elections. I think that really made the case quite succinctly,” he said.
Kaitlyn Bailey | Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
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