Fredericton — New Brunswick youths ages 16 and 17 are now voting adults, and they have a lot to say — especially about the legal drinking age.
Premier Brian Gallant introduced the idea of lowering the voting age last year. “We were getting tons of Snaps asking about it and my Insta has been blowing up since we introduced the change,” he said. “This is even bigger than the engagement tweet.”
The province’s youths wanted a voice and that voice has been heard — with a majority “yes” win on Thursday’s referendum asking whether New Brunswick should lower the legal minimum drinking age from 19 to 16.
“This is a win for the people,” said FHS student president Vince Hobert. “The eighteens wouldn’t have been able to push this through without the support of our 16- and 17-year-old brothers and sisters.
“Party on Smythe Street this weekend!” he added. “BLACK KATS FOOTBALL RULES!”
Not everyone is excited about the change, however; Prospect Street NB Liquor store manager Brian Godson doesn’t think a lower drinking age will mean increased profits for the Crown corporation.
“Most of them just grab a bottle of peach schnapps or a six-pack to share,” he said with a shrug. “I mean really, probably could have gotten more revenue just from opening the liquor store back up from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., or hey, add another hour from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.”
Local bartenders have expressed displeasure as well.
“It was pretty easy to ID people before. You could always tell if someone was underage and trying to cover it up with a bucket of makeup or a greasy dirt-stache,” grumbled Klub Khrome owner Jim Hodgins. “Now we’ve got kids with braces wearing Hello Kitty backpacks at the door, and my bouncers have no clue who should be let in and who shouldn’t!
“It used to be the 17-year-olds had fake IDs. Now it’s the 14-year-olds. What is this world coming to?”
The next initiative coming to the polls this fall is rumoured to be a new bylaw allowing bars to stay open past 2 a.m.