A teenager from Hamilton is one of many who have joined a court challenge that seeks to overturn the minimum voting age in Canada.
Jacob Colatoski, 16, is part of a 12-18-year-old group from across Canada who filed an application with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to challenge sections of the Canadian Elections Act that prohibit minor Canadians from voting. of 18 years.
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The young Hamiltonian says the reason for the candidacy is simple: the federal government makes decisions that affect his age group.
“We are shocked by things like the COVID-19 pandemic that is happening right now, the economy, racism and discrimination and climate change, one of the biggest problems of our generation,” Colatoski told Good Morning Hamilton of 900 CHML.
“We want to be able to take what we believe and what affects us and bring it to parliament.”
Those involved in the claim, from seven provinces and territories, filed their challenge Tuesday in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
“Initially restricted to male owners 21 years of age or older, voting rights in Canada have gradually been extended to other Canadian citizens such as women, racialized people, indigenous people, inmates and citizens living abroad,” the statement said.
“This progressive emancipation was driven by our growing recognition that ‘all citizens’ must include those who may have been excluded from social and political participation.”
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Sections 3 and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms are under attack by young people and the first (section 3) clearly states that “all citizens of Canada have the right to vote in an election” for the House of Commons and the legislative assembly. .
Also in their sights is Section 15, which states that “every individual is equal” before the law and is entitled to the same benefits of the law without discrimination, including by age.
Colatoski believes that today’s youth are much more informed about the world than previous generations thanks to technology, which he suggests gives them the ability to understand the information that comes from it.
“Technology has allowed us to understand and consume many more different forms of information,” Colatoski said.
“So we can see information from all sides of stories thanks to technology, and we can interpret and create our own opinions based on it.”
The federal government’s Office of the Privy Council said in an email that young people in Canada have many opportunities to participate in democracy, including encouraging others to vote, participating in organizations or groups that promote democratic values, and pre-registering to vote. .
He noted that the government has established the Register of Future Voters so that young Canadians can pre-register to vote, removing the biggest barrier for first-time voters.
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“Youth ages 14-17 are encouraged to register on the Elections Canada website.”
Justice for Children and Youth, as well as the David Asper Center for Constitutional Rights at the University of Toronto, are providing legal aid to youth in the challenge.
As for what new minimum voting age they are seeking, Colatoski says there is no specific one that they are fighting for.
“So when you look at other countries in the world that have a voting age of less than 18, the standard is 16 in countries like Brazil, Austria and recently Scotland, which is a country quite similar to Canada itself,” Colatoski said. .
“I can see from my own experience, from the people around me at 16 or younger, we are prepared to vote.”
– with Canadian Press files
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