A Kamloops teacher, whose students in recent years pushed the province to lower the voting age to 16, is calling an endorsement of the idea by municipalities in B.C. a “positive step.”
Despite rejecting the idea in previous years, the Union of BC Municipalities last week endorsed a resolution to lobby the province to lower the municipal election voting age 16. Currently, one must be at least 18 to vote in municipal, provincial and federal elections.
Westsyde secondary social studies teacher Jeremy Reid’s students have been lobbying for the lower voting age during the past few years, creating the Vote 16 campaign. Students created a website, advocated through media and wrote to provincial ministers and the premier. Though some of his students spearheading the initiative have since graduated, Reid said he was pleased to hear the UBCM endorsed the resolution.
“I think it would be a positive step and maybe the provincial government will implement that,” he said.
Reid said students are engaged. At the municipal level, high school students provide input to city hall via junior council. In addition, an estimated one-million students across Canada are taking part in a student vote for the Oct. 21 federal election.
Reid said lowering the voting age would lead to higher voter participation in society, providing a safe, non-partisan place for students to learn. He pointed to Brazilian international students who can vote at age 16 and noted students also drive at that age.
Kamloops Coun. Dale Bass was at the Union of BC Municipalities convention in Vancouver and voted in favour of the resolution.
“Look at what all these 16-year-olds are doing right now,” she said.
Sixteen-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg has made headlines recently for sailing across the Atlantic Ocean on a zero-emissions sailboat to attend a United Nations climate change conference, where she delivered a powerful speech, calling upon the world’s leaders to act for her generation. She later attended a climate strike march in Montreal that attracted about 500,000 people.
The voting age resolution was brought forward by the City of Victoria. It was not recommended for endorsement by the UBCM resolutions committee. UBCM previously rejected lowering the voting age in 2011 and 2006.