Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Where's the education campaign?

Depressing Ontario electoral reform referendum thought for the day via Sometimes Fickle:

If you’re an Ontario voter and you’ve actually heard of MMP, then that probably means you’re a geek like me who’s interested in electoral reform. My guess is that the vast majority of Ontario voters don’t know about MMP, or know that they’ll have the chance to answer a referendum question concerning MMP come Oct. 10.

I thought the province would have rolled out its ‘neutral’ information campaign -- an impossibility, no? -- on the referendum by now. I’ve seen between zero and very few television or print ads on the referendum. And none of the ads have actually delved into any MMP details. Is any one else concerned?
Colour me concerned.

There's so much misinformation out there it makes my head spin, you know? And there's no official education campaign out there to counter it. And I can't help but think that if this effort fails to meet the 60% threshold for passage, it'll be because one too many otherwise intelligent individuals felt free to say "the new system would mean [insert misinformation about the newly proposed system here]!" when what they really meant was "my friend Bob, who doesn't know crap, told me that the new system would mean [insert misinformation about the newly proposed system here], and I took it for gospel."


Anonymous said...

Murray Campbell's fear, uncertainty, and doubt-infused article in The Globe and Mail, so light on facts that it could float on the head of a pin, seems to have scared everyone. Same with Liberal Senator David Smith who ranted FALSIFCATIONS about MMP (the same usual ol' FUD) on national television. More than I've seen of MMP education, but that's all people think of MMP now in the absence of information.

You're right. There's no education. There's just FUD out there about MMP, and it's making me sick. We won't even get close to 60% if this keeps up, especially with The Globe and Mail's poll on MMP.

Ryan said...

Who brought the referendum to the table? Was it the Liberals?

Kuri said...

The lack of an education campaign is particular bad given all the "Oh my God, MMP is so *hard*!" arguments from the No side.

M@ said...

Ryan -- yes, the Liberals. McGuinty's stance was that he would convene a citizens' committee (which included, I believe, one or two citizens from each riding in the province) to research the issue and come up with the system they would like to see for Ontario.

McGuinty was clear from the start that he and his government would not endorse or oppose the committee's decision in any way. I think that's fair -- you don't get a fair referendum by letting the sitting government, who could stand to lose quite directly by one result or another, influence a referendum.

But the problem, I think, is that the citizens' committee was not really given the ability to promote their decision. Neither side in the referendum is funded by the government to promote its point of view to the populace.

It's fair, in a sense -- except that it favours the status quo very heavily. Unfortunately the Toronto Star is working very hard against MMP; I don't know which side will win, but I suspect it will be similar to the result in BC.

I've gained a handful of votes for MMP just by being informed on the issue and bein willing to talk at length about the issues involved. I don't even see MMP as the best of all systems -- but it's undoubtedly better than what Ontario has now.

CT said...

The No MMP campaign complained to Elections Ontario that educational information from the Citizens' Assembly about how and why they made their recommendation was being made available, so the government went back on its promise to print as much of the material as needed (and is no longer printing any). Obviously the No MMP folks would rather people made their decisions out of ignorance, since they know that the more people know about MMP, the more they support it.