For Immediate Release
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Today five members of the Students' Assembly on Electoral Reform held a press conference near Queen's Park where they called for Elections Ontario to do more to ensure that the public is well informed and make the Citizens' Assembly's final report available to all Ontarians. They also called on party leaders to lead on this issue and participate in the referendum debate.
"Something’s not right. The public hasn’t been informed. They don’t know enough about this issue or the Citizens’ Assembly. It’s sad that I’m surprised when I meet someone who knows anything about the upcoming referendum. It shouldn’t be that way.
"And with two weeks to go before election day, we’re feeling disappointed.
"We’re disappointed that the leaders refuse to discuss this issue. During the recent leaders' debate, they took a question about recall, but they didn’t discuss the referendum. How weird. We look to our political leaders for political leadership and we’re not getting that right now. Doesn’t leadership on this issue matter?
"We’re disappointed that there is so much misinformation floating around. That somehow Ontario would end up like Israel or Italy if the referendum passes. But Israel and Italy don’t use MMP – the comparison isn’t just misleading – it’s factually wrong. Yet it keeps getting repeated.
"We’re disappointed by Elections Ontario which is telling people to get informed, is scaring them with television ads that say terrible things can happen if you don’t understand the question. They’ll tell us how the systems work. But not why they work. Or even why this issue matters at all. This issue deserves more than a thirty-second slot.
"The Citizens’ Assembly created wonderful learning materials that are fair and balanced and which explain both systems. These should have been made directly available to Ontarians. Every Ontarian should have received a copy of the Citizens’ Assembly's final report."
The students are available for studio and telephone interviews over the balance of the week.
For more information, please call:
Jonathan Yantzi, SAER member, Grade 12 student,
Burlington, (905) 484-4632, firstname.lastname@example.org; www.studentsassembly.ca
About the representatives of the 103 members of the Students’ Assembly:
Xing Chiu, 17, was the representative for Trinity-Spadina on the Students' Assembly. She is currently a grade twelve student at North Toronto CI, and hopes to study social science at university. Since becoming a member of the Students' Assembly, Xing has done various presentations on electoral reform at school, informing students about the significance of the upcoming referendum.
Jonathan Yantzi, 17, was the Students’ Assembly member representing Burlington. Jonathan is a Grade 12 French Immersion student at Burlington Central High School. He is eager to continue exploring the worlds of political science, sociology and law at university next year. Jonathan has facilitated electoral reform workshops in his high school and community, and he was also among the five SAER members who presented to the Citizens’ Assembly in February.
Natalie Lum-Tai, 17, was the Students' Assembly member for Mississauga Centre. Natalie is a grade twelve music student at Cawthra Park Secondary School, in Mississauga Ontario. She is anxious to start university, and is wishing she had skipped grade three when she had the chance. She was one of five SAER members who presented their findings to the Citizens' Assembly in February. She is planning to participate in a referendum information session in Mississauga before October 10th.
Joseph Singh, 16, was the Students Assembly member for the riding of Scarborough East. Joseph is currently enrolled in grade 11 at St. Michael's Choir School in Toronto, Ontario. He hopes to pursue a career in politics and study diplomacy at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Since participating in the Students Assembly, Joseph has visited schools and youth groups talking about electoral reform and even gave a brief talk on electoral reform at the Liberal Leadership Convention last December. He does not support the move to MMP.
Zannah Matson, 18, was the Students' Assembly member for Hastings Frontenac Lennox and Addington. Zannah is in her first year of studies at the University of Toronto. She hopes to enter into the Peace and Conflict program, while concurrently majoring in Urban Studies. Since becoming a member of the Students' Assembly, she has worked with the Vote for MMP movement, made a set of videos to get youth thinking about the referendum, and has an upcoming speech at a public meeting.