Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Lowering the limit

There was some racket last week about the Conservatives planning on listing the names of offenders who committed serious violent crimes who were as young as 14. And charging them as adults. I confess, it's one of those issues that I'm a bit perplexed as to why the prime minister decided to make a big deal out of it by dragging it up in the middle of an election campaign. There are plenty of big issues to deal with in this campaign. And I know violence, especially in places like Toronto and Vancouver, is a concern. But is it that big a deal?

(I would add Nunavut to this list, but realistically, if someone commits a serious crime up here and is charged, everyone in town knows who it is within a day, if not less. So the legislation doesn't make a tinker's damn worth of difference).

But the point is, would it make a difference? Would it deter crime in the slightest? Would it make things actually worse?

There are, I'm sure, some very smart people arguing both sides of that point. But when I was scrolling through some comments on a Globe and Mail story, someone floated up what I thought was a particularly clever idea that I would enthusastically support.

If you're going to start holding people as young as 14 accountable to this level, if you going to start treating and punishing them as adults, well clearly you need to start giving them some of the same rights as adults.

That means lowering the voting age. I think 14 might be pushing it a bit too much, but I would certainly support the idea of lowering the voting age to 16. I think that would prove to be an interesting shift in the way elections are run. The youth vote is traditionally ignored by most campaigns. You'll have some leaders show up on university campuses and speak a few words, but that's about it.

But just imagine if they actually had to start paying attention to people in high school? If when the prime minister floated the idea of tougher standards in youth criminal justice, the same youth that this would impact would have a say. I imagine more time might be spent discussing educational and environmental issues as well. For that matter, it would also get students more interested in political issues and the world around them. Again, all good things as far as I can see.

It would provide an interesting, and mostly positive, shift in the public discussion. Yes, some will argue that at 16 they would be too immature to handle the responsibility of voting. My first counter to that is to tell them to read the feedback section on the Globe's and CBC's websites. If you're going to use immaturity to discount someone's right to vote, I suggest you start subpoenaing their websites for the names of people posting so you can start banning them now before they have a chance to cast their vote and do damage.

Some will take it seriously, some will not. Which means they're perfectly inline with the rest of the Canadian public.

Yes, you have to draw a line somewhere. There has to be a cut-off point for when a person can vote. And people do grow up a lot from 16 to 18. But I don't think 16 is so immature that they can't listen to the arguments and make a decision on which candidate and party would best serve their interests.

So let's see some party float that out there as a suppliment to the discussion on youth criminal justice. I'd like to hear the debate.

Last Five
1. How to save a life - The Fray
2. Feelin' alright - Joe Cocker
3. Blush - The Raveonettes
4. Good is good - Sheryl Crow
5. The last worthless evening - Don Henley


Matt, Kara and Hunter said...

I like that idea!

Brian said...

Sixteen is the voting age here in Nunatsiavut. Given some of the older idiots running the country ad the province maybe it’s about time we gave the younger ones at least a chance to vote.

Off topic: The Avataq was in here yesterday offloading a whole whack of materials for the new Northern store. Man I like that operation, makes our provincially run freight service positively third worldish.

Bob Izumi Jr. said...

This is a goddamn good idea.

It always blows my mind when people (like, for example, Rick Mercer, who's probably done more than any single person to infantalize and dumb down Canadian politics)object to lowering the voting age. I mean, imagine! These people might vote on the basis of altruism! Can't have that, can we?

In Iqaluit said...

I think the idea is great to have the Conservatives stop the nonsense of wanting to treating 14 year olds as adults.

It's a great counter-argument. And how about lowering the drinking age too? Yikes.

But I do like the idea of lowering the voting age to 16.

It seems like the Conservatives are using this as their "unique" issue. Have they even released their platform yet? I haven't been paying attention. I want to know now what their "priorities" will be under a minority government or a majority government. Or as the opposition!

Way Way Up said...

The youth vote is just as important... and just as spread out across the political spectrum as the general population.

I don't watch Rick Mercer that often, but in his defence I feel that political satire is a great way to get people to look at important issues.

Mireille Sampson said...

Neither Van nor TO is the most violent city in canada, TO isn't even the most violent city in ontario. Well, we're talking on a per capita basis. Winnipeg is the national capital; London for ontario.