Elections Ontario Launches Second 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, Sept. 7 /CNW/ - In preparation for Ontario's October 10, 2007
referendum on electoral reform, Elections Ontario has launched the second
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 whether to
continue the current electoral system, known as First-Past-the-Post (FPTP), or
adopt the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) electoral system proposed by the
Citizens' Assembly. 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.
    Previously on August 1, 2007, Elections Ontario announced Phase One of
the "Understand the Question" campaign and throughout August province-wide
direct mail and media relations programs as well as a radio campaign were
launched. In addition, almost 40,000 Ontario voters have visited Election
Ontario's dedicated referendum website, www.yourbigdecision.ca, to gain
further information and make inquiries. The referendum Facebook member page
presently has approximately 425 members.
    "The Ontario referendum is a historic event and our impartial voter
education mandate is based on the themes of creating awareness, providing
resources and driving community engagement, " said John Hollins, Chief
Electoral Officer, Elections Ontario. "Our goal is to engage all Ontario
voters through means that are relevant to them, be they traditional, community
meetings or web-based channels, whatever the case may be."
    "We have also developed a phased campaign because we also appreciate that
the majority of Ontarians will now begin to focus seriously on the referendum
as we enter the Fall," continued Hollins. "We are very encouraged by the voter
feedback we have received throughout the summer and we look forward to
increased participation as we continue towards October 10th."

    "Understand the Question" Public Education Campaign Elements:

    Resources

    
    -   The Elections Ontario dedicated referendum website,
        www.yourbigdecision.ca, provides voters with impartial tools to
        define and understand both the First-Past-the-Post and the Mixed
        Member Proportional electoral systems and to assess these systems
        against individual voter priorities and considerations. The website
        features a comprehensive Questions and Answers section as well as a
        video tutorial that guides visitors through the Referendum and
        explains the First-Past-the-Post and the Mixed-Member-Proportional
        electoral systems. The site features background information about
        referendums and links to a recommended list of third party expert
        resources. Voters may also register their email addresses for
        information updates as website content will be continually enriched.

    -   A public toll free information telephone line, 1.888.ONT.VOTE
        (1-888-668-8683) is dedicated to assist voters with their questions.

    -   Voters may make information inquiries at info@yourbigdecision.ca.

    -   Information householders will be distributed to homes across the
        province the first week of September and again the first week of
        October.

    -   A French and English referendum information insert will be
        distributed to all registered Ontario voters in mid-September with
        their general election Notice of Registration Card.

    Community

    -   107 Resource Officers are available to deliver local community
        information sessions throughout the province. Sessions can be
        delivered in English or French and support for presentations in other
        languages is available upon request. To request an information
        session voters may do so through www.yourbigdecision.ca,
        1-888-ONT-VOTE (1-888-668-8683) or info@yourbigdecision.ca.

    -   A Referendum Facebook profile was launched in August to complement
        other Facebook communities interested in the Ontario Referendum and
        to provide Facebook members with impartial information.

    -   Voter resource information has also been posted on community website
        YouTube. To view the YouTube resource information please click on
        http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=YourBigDecision.

    -   A downloadable "Plan to Vote" widget, an online viral web tool, will
        launch on September 10, 2007 to encourage voter participation and
        awareness. A comprehensive viral outreach program will encourage
        recipients to forward the widget to their friends and online
        community members to drive voter participation on October 10.

    Awareness

    -   A province-wide French and English television campaign launched on
        September 3, 2007 illustrating humorously the consequences of not
        "understanding the question". These commercials, "Mechanic" and
        "Dog Sitter" are being broadcast throughout Ontario and are also
        available on YouTube. Additionally a third commercial, "Hot Tub", is
        available exclusively on YouTube. To view "Mechanic", Hot Tub" and
        "Dog Sitter" please click on
        http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=YourBigDecision.

    -   Community-level French and English media relations and blogger
        outreach programs are ongoing to distribute impartial information
        defining both electoral systems, critieria for making a choice
        against individual voter priorities and identifying other "Understand
        the Question" information sources.

    -   A province-wide French and English newspaper advertising campaign and
        a further community and ethnic newspaper campaign in 24 languages
        begins the second week of September.

    -   An online advertising program begins the week of September 3, 2007
        targeting high traffic Ontario portals of Canadian websites to
        encourage voters to visit www.yourbigdecision.ca for information.

    -   Information posters will be available in all polling places when the
        Advance Polls begin on September 22.
    

    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.





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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