TORONTO, ON – September 29, 2015 – An independent review of recent Federal election campaign emails has exposed the irony that although Canada’s Anti Spam Legislation (CASL) received widespread support in Parliament, the top four political parties are all clearly in violation of CASL laws.

The methodology was simple. itracMarketer, a Toronto-based email marketing, automation, and CASL compliance software service provider, signed up for the email lists of the Conservatives, Liberals, New Democrats and Green Party. The emails received from each party were then monitored for a two-week period (August 13 – August 28) to gauge their CASL compliance. As part of the review process itracMarketer carefully reviewed the key factors of each party’s communications including email collection forms, privacy policies, and unsubscribe processes. The results were not stellar.

Federal Election Pretension: Canadian Candidates Need a Crash Course on CASL

Failure to comply with CASL regulations comes with substantial penalties for Canadian businesses. Though mostly undefined to date, the assignment of fines under CASL can be as high as $10 million dollars per violation. As non-commercial organizations, political parties are technically exempt from CASL, but itracMarketer wanted to hold Canada’s political parties accountable to follow the CASL legislation that they passed:

Key Findings:

While all the parties did have a privacy policy, they all failed miserably at properly capturing consent on their email collection pages. Mistakes included:

  • Failure to provide a physical address on email collection pages
  • Failure to explain the kinds of communications/content they would send
  • No clear indication of how to unsubscribe from communications

Additional Findings

Although none of the party emails received indulged in blatant “mud-slinging” the parties’ email campaigns did vary in both quantity and tone:

  • The NDP had the most active email campaign, with 22 emails received over the course of two weeks.
  • The NDP and Conservative parties also used stronger language than the Liberal and Green parties.
  • The Liberal party had the least active email campaign, sending only five emails – three during the review period and two after unsubscribing from their list.

Check out the CASL Report Card below

CASL Report on Canadian Political Emails

NDP (More is better theory?)
CASL Compliance Grade: D

The New Democrats had the most active email campaign of all the parties with 22 emails over the course of two weeks. Emails included requests for volunteers and many requests for donations of $5 or more. The New Democrats’ emails also take a strong tone, accusing the Conservatives of trying to buy the election, hurting Canada’s reputation on the world stage and even used an old Stephen Harper quote about government corruption against him.

Conservative Party (Fewer emails, more attacks)
CASL Compliance Grade: D

The Conservatives were in the middle of the pack in terms of quantity, with ten emails received in two weeks. Email content varied from soliciting donations, requesting lawns sign placement and directing the recipient to follow them on social media. The tone of the Conservative Party’s emails was even more aggressive than the NDP, using language such as “job-killing, irresponsible, naive, and dangerous” when describing the other party leaders and their policies.

Green Party (Issue focused)
CASL Compliance Grade: D

The Green Party sent only six emails during the review period. The content of the emails included donation requests, but mainly focused, not surprisingly, on specific environmental issues such as the Energy East pipeline.

Liberal Party (Least active before we unsubscribed, most active after)
CASL Compliance Grade: F

The Liberal Party sent the fewest emails during the two week review period, only three, but it was also the only party to send emails after unsubscribing from their list. Two emails were received after the ten day grace period for unsubscribe processing (a CASL violation). In terms of tone, the Liberals were critical of the Conservatives although their word choices were less aggressive. Also of note, the Liberals were the only party that did not solicit donations directly in an email during the two-week review period.

“Canada’s political parties will never be fined for violating CASL rules, but really, since most parliamentarians supported the CASL legislation, they should be setting a better example,” said Steve Vermeiren, V.P. Customer Success and Marketing at itracMarketer. “It also goes to show that if the same people who created the CASL legislation are having trouble complying with it, there are bound to be businesses and organizations making the same mistakes.