QUEBEC READIES FOR VOTE

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MONTREAL-Opponents in Quebec's binding referendum on splitting from Canada will spend nearly $3 million combined advertising their views before the Oct. 30 vote.

Recent public opinion polls show the no side, which favors remaining a part of Canada, to be leading by 4 to 7 percentage points leading up to the vote on the fate of Canada's second most populous province, with a population of 6.9 million.

Referendum advertising began in mid-September with outdoor boards and transit ads, with the TV and print campaigns beginning last week.

In ads created by BCP Strategy Creativity of Montreal, the no side splits the word "separation" on fields of blue and red, using symbols from the Canadian maple leaf flag and Quebec fleur de lis flag to create the "o" in the French "non."

The translated tagline reads "We have a reason to say no."

TV spots use footage of Quebec Premier Jacques Parizeau, who is leading the fight for the pro-separatists, with a voice-over that asks, "Mr. Parizeau, why risk losing all the benefits we already have?" The ad lists the benefits of federalism for Quebecers, such as Canadian citizenship and the Canadian passport and dollar.

A print ad in the yes campaign from Oui Dire appeals to Quebec's cultural and linguistic differences (80% of the people are French) from the rest of Canada. The ads superimpose the word "oui" in white over the first three letters of Quebec.

The copy reads: "We have the right to be different." Other print ads feature the Canadian $1 coin replacing the letter "O" in oui to reassure Quebecers they can still use Canadian currency in a separate Quebec. Jonathan Kalina contributed to this story.

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