Top News

Bill to lower voting age to 16 defeated in P.E.I. legislature

['Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker says he is happy to see both the federal and provincial governments ready to adopt a carbon pricing policy.']
['Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker says he is happy to see both the federal and provincial governments ready to adopt a carbon pricing policy.']

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - It appears Prince Edward Island will not extend the franchise to 16-year-olds.  

A private member’s bill put forward by Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker aimed at lowering the voting age for provincial elections to 16 was defeated by a majority of Liberal and Progressive Conservative MLAs Tuesday evening.

Bevan-Baker says he knew the idea was a long shot, but he hoped to spark a good debate on the issue.

The debate that did ensue involved MLAs from both parties musing about how lowering the voting age could impact other laws and policies involving the age of majority, including issues related to the Criminal Code, the legal drinking age and the minimum age for the military.

Education Minister Doug Currie even suggested lowering the voting age to 16-year-olds would be “in some ways taking away their youth.”

RELATED: Green leader Bevan-Baker wants voting age lowered to 16

Bevan-Baker stressed over and over his proposal would be a standalone law and would not affect other laws with age parameters.

He says he felt the concerns raised by his fellow MLAs came down to a difference in attitude toward youth.

“Either you trust and have faith in young Islanders and you encourage them to express their opinions and you respect what they say or you don’t. You distrust them and you suppress their voices and you question their ability to make sound choices,” Bevan-Baker said.

“Personally, I have faith in the youth of this province to be able to do what’s required to do what’s required to vote in a knowledgeable way in elections.”

Last month, the New Brunswick Commission on Electoral Reform released a report that included a recommendation to lower the voting age to 16.

Sixteen- and 17-year-olds were permitted to vote in P.E.I.’s plebiscite on electoral reform last fall.

But Bevan-Baker’s bill was defeated in second reading Tuesday evening in a vote of 19-5.

Only four PC MLAs voted in support of the bill: Matthew MacKay, James Aylward, Brad Trivers and Sidney MacEwen.

 

twright@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa

Recent Stories