Elections Ontario Launches Final Phase of Referendum Public Education Campaign "Understand the Question"



    Province-wide communications program to ensure Ontario voters are
    prepared to make an informed decision on October 10, 2007

    TORONTO, Oct. 4 /CNW/ - In preparation for Ontario's October 10, 2007
referendum on electoral reform, Elections Ontario today announced the final
phase of its referendum public education campaign "Understand the Question".
    At the same time as the provincial general election on October 10,
Ontario voters will also receive a referendum ballot to choose between the
existing electoral system, known as First-Past-the-Post (FPTP), or the
alternative electoral system proposed by the Citizens' Assembly Mixed Member
Proportional (MMP). The referendum will mark the first time since 1792 that
electors are being asked to consider a change to the way that Ontario's
provincial representatives are elected.
    "Our mandate, as defined by law, is to ensure that Ontario voters receive
clear and impartial information about the referendum process, the date of the
referendum, the referendum question and the content of the choices in the
referendum," says John Hollins, Chief Electoral Officer, Elections Ontario.
"We are delivering a comprehensive province-wide program that extends to all
eligible voters and voter engagement with the program continues to escalate as
we move towards October 10."
    "Our focus over the remaining days leading up to the referendum is
continuing to increase awareness of the referendum question and educating
voters about their choices," continued Hollins. "We encourage all referendum
stakeholders to assist us in our mandate and appreciate their efforts as we
focus on that task together."
    On August 1, 2007, Elections Ontario announced details of the overall
education program and Phase One of the "Understand the Question" campaign.
Later on September 7, the agency launched Phase Two of the education program
in a second newsrelease. The comprehensive, integrated campaign includes:
multiple mailers to all Ontario voters; ongoing television, radio and print
advertising; community presentations; media and blogger relations; a dedicated
information website; call centre and email support; and digital media.
    Since the campaign's August launch more Ontario voters are visiting
Election Ontario's dedicated referendum website, www.yourbigdecision.ca, every
day, to gain further information and make inquiries through
info@yourbigdecision.ca and 1-800-ONT-VOTE. Information mailers have been sent
to 4.8 million Ontario households and a specially designed advertising
program, increasing in frequency through to October 10th, has been executed in
television, radio, internet and newspaper outlets throughout the province. To
date, more than 2,000 community presentations have been delivered by
107 Referendum Resource Officers engaged by Elections Ontario to deliver
impartial grassroots education.
    The Elections Ontario referendum Facebook page presently has
approximately 745 members and the Facebook application has been added to 500
personal Facebook profiles. An Elections Ontario viral "Plan to Vote" widget
has been viewed over 100,000 times and the Elections Ontario Youtube channel
has been watched over 500 times with 2,000 combined views of the television
ads placed on Youtube.

    
    Phase Three - "Understand the Question" Public Education Campaign
    Elements:

    -   All existing elements will continue until October 10, 2007.

    -   Several hundred more community presentations are scheduled to be
        delivered between October 4th and October 9th, 2007. The schedule for
        the presentations that are open to the public is posted on
        www.yourbigdecision.ca.

    -   4.8 million information household mailers are being distributed to
        homes across Ontario the first week of October.

    -   A radio advertising program is currently underway to encourage
        Ontario voters to watch a rebroadcast of a referendum debate hosted
        earlier on public broadcaster TVO's "The Agenda with Steve Paikin".
        The rebroadcast will occur on October 6, 6:00 - 7:00 pm and again on
        October 8, 8:00 - 9:00 pm. The website www.yourbigdecision.ca also
        has the debate available for viewing at voters' convenience.

    -   Referendum advertising will intensify on major Web sites in the days
        leading up to Election and Referendum Day, October 10.

    -   A voter education advertisement will appear in Ontario newspapers on
        October 10 to assist voters on Referendum day. (NOTE: A copy of the
        advertisement accompanies this release and may be used by media
        outlets to inform and educate Ontario voters).

    -   Referendum voter information posters are available in all polling
        places for October 10th.
    

    About the Referendum

    In June 2005, the Ontario Legislature began a process to review electoral
systems. In March 2006, the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform, an
independent body representing the electors in Ontario was created. They were
asked to assess Ontario's current electoral system and different electoral
systems, and recommend whether Ontario should retain its current system or
adopt a different one. The Citizens' Assembly's proposal has resulted in this
Referendum.

    About Elections Ontario

    Elections Ontario is the non-partisan agency responsible for
administering provincial elections, by-elections and referenda in the Province
of Ontario

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at http://photos.newswire.ca.
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/





For further information:

For further information: Elynn Wareham, GCI Group for Elections Ontario,
(416) 486-5910, ewareham@gcigroup.com; Matt Roth, GCI Group for Elections
Ontario, (416) 486-5911, mroth@gcigroup.com


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