Laws That Politicians Are NOT Bound By

I’ve seen complaints suggesting emails from those running in the federal election are spam. But CASL specifically exempts political emails from the definition of spam. A recent review of political emails by a mail service provider showed that they are not even trying to comply with the spirit of CASL – such as having unsubscribe mechanisms and contact information.

It’s never been clear to me why those making laws think they deserve to be exempted from many laws they think business need to follow. Perhaps if they applied more laws to themselves some laws might be a lot more user friendly (I challenge any politician or political party to fully comply with CASL and see what a pain it is), and we would be less perturbed with their communications and campaigns.

Here are a few laws that don’t apply to politicians that perhaps should:

  • CASL
  • Privacy
  • Do Not Call
  • Signage bylaws
  • Misleading advertising


  1. David Collier-Brown

    I think that could be used as the proverbial “canary in the coal-mine”. If a politician or party votes for a special privilege for themselves, it’s a public admission of corruption.

    That promptly calls for the question of whether its the kind of corrupt practice that gets them thrown in the hoosegow, or just gets them into trouble with the electorate.

    In the case of CASL, it would be easy to re-use the standard opt-out mechanisms of one’s website and email provider: I know Martha Hall Findlay did exactly that in her run for the leadership of her party, even though she had a “free pass” from the laws of the day.

    In that case, it’s the opposite to the dead canary: Martha’s canary was very alive and singing brightly!

  2. The laws that exclude application to political messages do so in the public interest in supporting a robust democratic politics. You make it look as if the “politicians” have exempted themselves for their own self-serving purposes, which is not the case. The exemptions are designed to serve the public, the voters. Besides, if those laws applied to political messages, who would decide when the laws had been breached and wouldn’t this process simply be another political debate?

  3. I would agree with Rob and go further. If these statutes did include political activities it would be a violation of s. 2(a) and would not be saved under s. 1.

    Political expression, no matter how annoying the emails and the signs may be, are part of the core fundamental freedoms that our Charter and the courts will protect.

    This exclusion may not be part of a deliberate attempt to benefit themselves, but rather the result of some careful legislative drafting by a government lawyer familiar with these potential Charter challenges.

  4. Political signs are still subject to municipal by-laws relating to safety (i.e. block line of sight for drivers; cannot be put up on public land close to major highways; need to be safely set back) as well as condo by-laws related to safe adhesion (what and how you mount them if they are on the building itself).

    I agree with the previous posters, this is an issue of protecting political speech. Remember, most of those signs are actually put up by supporters unless they are placed on public land. That’s just my piece on signs.