Age Cap

The age and cognitive abilities of our politicians has become a dominating subject of
discourse surrounding problems in our political system. The answer to this problem is
to implement an age cap on those seeking political office.

Admittedly, this is usually
debated by our American neighbours, particularly harped on by the likes of Joe Rogan
and other political commentators.


Undoubtedly, this has become a popular conversation topic on account of the last two
American presidents having held the office while in their 70s (President Joe Biden is
the oldest in American history to have this responsibility).


The Canadian political landscape has its fair share of aging politicians, but is it as big
of a problem as has been perceived in the USA? And more importantly, is an age cap on
politicians an appropriate answer?


Canadian parties do have members well over the age of retirement. Liberal MP Hedy
Fry is in her 80s and Tory MP Martin Shields is over the age of 75, to name two.


However, the unspoken yet common practice is to retire prior to getting too deep into
one’s late years. Recently we saw Minister Carolyn Bennet retiring at the age of 72.
There have been many other Members of Parliament announcing their decision not to
seek reelection as they approach a similar age.


In the unelected Canadian Senate, there is forced retirement at the ripe age of 75.
However, unlike members of Parliament, senators aren’t elected. They are not the
direct representatives of constituents. It therefore stands to reason we can apply rules
to their service.


But this fad of calling for an age cap on all politicians sets a dangerous, undemocratic
precedent and undermines the responsibility of the electorate—as well as the party
system.


Applying such prohibitions on those who are able to run for office is in fact placing
limitations on the electorate instead of the politicians. It is limiting the functions of
democracy. Canadians should have absolute choice over their local representatives,
regardless of whom they elect.


The point of democracy is to elect representatives to be our voice in the Parliamentary
process. Placing an age cap on those who are seeking to run for office would be an
affront to the process and diminishes the responsibility of the electorate.


The responsibility for holding politicians accountable ultimately falls on those who
elect them. And the responsibility should remain there.


The real problem is not that those of a mature age are running for office; it is the
apathy and rabid partisanship of the electorate.


We have come to a point in our democracy where there is little attention paid to the
individual candidate. This allows politicians of a certain age to continually be elected
based off their party alignment.


Instead of applying this somewhat arbitrary age cap, we should be encouraging a
genuine interest in representatives. One initiative is to remove party affiliation from
ballots. This, at the very leas, would push voters to have prior knowledge of the names
on the ballot rather than relying on their singular knowledge of the party.


In summary, we should not pander to the growing apathy of voters by babysitting their
ability to choose who receives their vote. They should be called to fulfill their
responsibility of holding politicians to account at the ballot box.

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