Move is to reinstate the voting age to 18 and prevent repeat of Greek referendum defeat in 1852
Canada is under fire again over the voting age after dozens of young people filed a class action suit on Saturday, asking the federal government to reinstate the voting age of 18.
As to be expected in a Canada that doesn’t allow people to openly display a political party affiliation, political strategists are mixed on the future of the 18-year-old voting age.
The millennial response to positive attitudes towards men is, unsurprisingly, no praise. And while political scientists have certainly counselled against a “vote your heart” mentality before elections, the lawsuit is the continuation of a conversation that has begun to influence Canadian politics.
An 18-year-old, Ali François, said he was inspired to take action after watching the Ontario Progressive Conservative government changed its position on voting age from 18 to 19 months prior to elections in February. “This is an important issue and 18 is too young to be voting in provincial and national elections,” François said.
Sandra Rosenberg, a law professor at the University of Toronto, said she thinks it is important for people to understand how early votes change things before the House of Commons votes on the matter on Tuesday. “Will the House of Commons be simply accepting or rejecting the provincial legislation?” Rosenberg said. “That is the uncertain part. The voter knows which legislature they are entitled to and they can only be, if they are 18 years of age, eligible to vote in that provincial or federal election.”
That last one is critical, because some people will say, ‘she’s 18, she’s an adult, so she can vote,’ but not everyone will have the same understanding of that, said Rosenberg.
With the rise of the information age, Canadian electoral systems, and politics, is far more complex.
It goes without saying that a 19-year-old, such as Justin Trudeau, would be considered in a “hypothetical sense” to be an adult, according to Rosenberg.
As of Friday, 12 Canadians filed a class action lawsuit in Ontario’s Superior Court against the federal government and provincial legislature. A subsequent order of the trial court will decide if the voting age should be raised to 18 years.
Jeanne Courchesne, coordinator of the youth coalition Georgie: Every Woman Counts at Legal Aid, said she was involved with the day of action, which she helped plan. Courchesne is 18 years old and said she spoke to 100 young people who wanted to be involved in this movement.
If an 18-year-old is registered as an active adult, who buys a car or takes out a mortgage in their name, she can vote before they get to 19, Courchesne said. When you’re 18, the voting age is the minimum legal age. Courchesne said that taking away voting rights is part of the country’s “macho image”.
“The idea that if you’re 18 you’re either sexy, or ready to be taken in, then you can take on anything,” Courchesne said. “If you’re voting, you’re erasing sex from being voting and sexuality from being voting.”
The 18-year-old who spoke to the Guardian, Monica McInnis, wanted to be an active adult, she said.
“Like many young Canadians, I am deeply disappointed with the federal government’s decision to drop the age of eligibility for voting to 19,” McInnis said. “It is a serious constitutional issue that can only be resolved by upholding the stated intentions and founding principle of our democratic system – the right to vote.”
The voting age was set to 18 in 1857 in the wake of the federal election results of 1852, where voter turnout in Canada plummeted.