Elections Ontario Launches Referendum Public Education Campaign - "Understand the Question"

    Province-wide communications program to ensure 8.5 million Ontario voters
    are prepared to make an informed decision on October 10, 2007

    TORONTO, Aug. 1 /CNW/ - In preparation for Ontario's October 10, 2007
referendum on electoral reform, Elections Ontario launched the first phase of
its referendum public education campaign today. The "Understand the Question"
campaign is designed to ensure that Ontario's 8.5 million registered voters
are aware that the referendum is taking place and feel adequately informed to
make a decision when it comes time to mark their referendum ballots this Fall.
    At the same time as the general provincial 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. This marks 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 is to ensure that Ontario voters are not only aware that a
referendum is occurring on October 10, but believe they are adequately
prepared to make an informed decision based on their individual considerations
and priorities," said John Hollins, Chief Electoral Officer, Elections
    "Through our past experience and ongoing consultation with political
science and literacy experts, we have designed a program that we believe
reflects Ontario's scope and diversity, delivers impartial educational
information and allows voters to become informed through a variety of
mediums," continued Hollins. "It also allows us the flexibility to make
adjustments based on voter questions as we move forward towards the actual
referendum date."

    "Understand the Question" Campaign Elements

    -   The Elections Ontario referendum public education website,
        www.yourbigdecision.ca launching today, 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.
        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-ONTVOTE
        (1-888-668-8683), is available beginning today to assist voters with
        their questions.

    -   A Facebook profile and group launches today to increase referendum
        awareness and provide another channel for voters to make information
        inquiries though the email address info@yourbigdecision.ca.

    -   A community-level French and English media relations program is
        underway 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 25 languages
        will appear beginning the first week of September.

    -   A province-wide "Understand the Question" French and English radio
        campaign launches today and will run until August 13, 2007.

    -   Over 100 Resource Officers are being hired to deliver local community
        information sessions throughout the province. 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.

    -   An online advertising program will begin in early September targeting
        high traffic Ontario portals of Canadian websites to encourage voters
        to visit www.yourbigdecision.ca for information.

    -   A Youtube information site and a downloadable widget (an online viral
        web tool) will be available later in August to raise awareness and
        direct voters to "Understand the Question" information resources.

    -   A province-wide "Understand the Question" French and English
        television campaign will launch in September, 2007.

    -   A French and English direct mail information program will be
        distributed in September, 2007 to all Ontario voters.

    -   Householders (unaddressed ad-mail) will be distributed to homes
        across the province immediately after Labour Day and again in the
        beginning of October.

    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 in 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 referendums 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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