The Edmonton Youth Council will get the city’s endorsement in a bid to get the municipal voting age lowered to 16.
However it was a split, 7-6 decision in council, and one of the nay-sayers was Councilor Tony Caterina.
He says council didn’t have enough information to properly endorse the youth council.
“My thought was, sending the letter on their own behalf, that’s fine, and I applaud them for that,” says Caterina. “Sending a letter with council’s endorsement, and support of this idea? Way too premature.”
Caterina says he also felt there should have done some public consultation, as the initial response has been negative.
“We heard back very loudly in the past week, week-and-a-half, from the general public, asking what the heck we’re thinking about.”
Councilor Michael Walters, on the other side, says consultation on this matter would be province’s responsibility as it’s not a civic issue. He also feels the Youth Council presented a strong argument.
“There was a great deal of research brought forward that was hard to argue against, about the capacity of sixteen year-olds to discern and make informed decisions about issues that affect them, and the research was actually pretty clear,” explains Walters. “Whereas the research against, that sixteen is too young, or they’re just not ready, there wasn’t a lot of evidence to support that case.”
Municipal Affairs says this is a new issue which they haven’t done any consultation or research into, but such a change would require altering the Local Authorities Election Act, and it’s too early to say how that would take shape. (scb, kb)