Imagine Snoop Dogg as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Strange things happen when 16-year-olds vote.

Word on the street is our democracy is in shambles. At this pace, the voter turnout rate in 2020 will be four people. So some, like the provincial Liberals, are musing about lowering the voting age to 16.

I remember being 16. Some of my peers were genuinely smart and thoughtful people. Others thought you were talking about a farm animal if you mentioned the Dalai Lama (true story).

Most 18-year-olds are very different people than their 16-year-old selves. So why the rush? I have a 17-
year-old brother, and unless the federal election becomes a song on Guitar Hero, I don’t trust him with our democracy.

We’re so desperate for higher turnouts that P. Diddy actually ran a “Vote or Die” campaign in the 2004 American election. Look at what we’ve become. We’re acting like coke fiends, threatening to have Diddy gun you down
in the street if you don’t vote.

Really, we don’t need more voters (easy there, Diddy. Let me finish.) What we need are more informed voters. It’s better to have a 60 per cent knowledgeable electorate voting than a 100 per cent close-your-eyes-and-mark-an-X turnout.

Take this week’s drama in Parliament. There was a lot of ignorance and misinformation swirling around. Many called a coalition government undemocratic. Not true. It’s just obscurely democratic.

Most people just don’t know how Parliament works beyond the very basics. So how do we get them more informed? Here’s my tip to D250:

Go watch the Model Parliament run every year at Dartmouth High by teacher Don Houle. Over three days, the kids get to skip class to act as MPs, debate a bunch of bills and inevitably legalize marijuana. Now imagine if every student in the province got this hands-on experience. Imagine an entire generation of people who understand how their government works. Then we can talk about voter participation.

Vote or die.

Paul McLeod is a staff reporter at Metro Halifax. He is currently in rehab for being a political junkie. It’s going badly.

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