The climate crisis drives the reduction of the voting age to 16 years

As Canada and the world see more and more frequent examples of climate chaos by the week, the slow legislative movement to give more voice to those who will have to deal with it started again in Ottawa.

When Parliament was dissolved for last summer’s election, a list of pending bills went with it, but Sen. Marilou McPhedran rose late last month to put one of them back on the table.

the newly appointed S-201 that she sponsored has passed the first reading, and McPhedran and her supporters hope the effort will eventually lead to 16- and 17-year-old Canadians getting the right to vote.

Manitoba’s independent senator hopes the move will revitalize the country’s democracy, while some youth advocates said it was about time these teens were more involved, specifically in climate policy.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that the climate crisis is here and requires strong action now,” said Manvi Bhalla, who advocates for a stronger political voice for young people as president of the Shake Up The Establishment group.

Just last month, three major storms with so-called “atmospheric rivers” hit British Columbia and destroyed critical infrastructure. The storms followed devastating wildfires and summer heat waves that represent a lethal mix of cascading climate impacts from a warming planet.

Bhalla said that what happens now will determine the future of humanity and that of the world’s landscapes and other beings, and young people deserve to have a voice.

“Young people have nothing to do with the game, but with our future and they deserve to have a voice and vote in shaping this future, given that we were born in this crisis without any sense of agency since its inception,” he said.

The push for voting rights, meanwhile, advanced dramatically in Germany over the summer, and the three parties formed their next coalition government. all committed to lowering the voting age to 16.

“It’s not as radical an idea as many might think,” said Sara Austin, executive director of Children First Canada, one of the main sponsors of a separate legal challenge launched Tuesday by youth in an Ontario court.

“Young people have no interest in the game, but in our future and they deserve to have a say in shaping this future, given that we were born in this crisis without any sense of agency from its inception,” says Manvi Bhalla of Shake Up. The Establishment. #YouthVote

That brief argues that young people are just as capable of making rational voting decisions as those over 18 and that applicants have been denied the constitutional right to avoid discrimination based on age.

“Imagine if 16-year-olds could vote on the future they want,” said Catherine McKenna, a former Canadian climate change minister who did not seek re-election in 2021. “They will be 45 in 2050 when we need to be net -zero. I’ll be 80 “.

“I want to hear your voices now about what we have to do to get there. They will live much longer with the consequences of our action or inaction, ”he said in tweets supporting McPhedran’s bill.

For Bhalla, young people expect a fair, healthy and sustainable life, a slow life, and they know what must be done to make this happen.

“It is time to recognize and legitimize your intelligence and passion as a goal to achieve these goals,” he said.

Morgan Sharp / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada National Observer

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