July 11, 2014 – Guelph, ON – Today the Guelph Federal Conservative Electoral District Association made the following statement after discussions with the Guelph Chamber of Commerce President, Lloyd Longfield:
Much misinformation has been published and circulated over the past two days about the email that a paying member of the Guelph Chamber of Commerce, the Guelph Federal Conservative Electoral District Association, sent to other GCC members on Tuesday afternoon, July 8, 2014. It is apparent that Canada’s new anti-spam legislation is misunderstood by many organizations and individuals in Guelph, including the GCC. It is also apparent that many GCC members are not aware that the information they give to the Chamber is not private and, in fact, is available to both members and non-members of GCC for networking and promotional purposes.
The message that the Guelph Federal Conservative EDA sent to fellow GCC members was that they could keep informed about local activities leading up to the 2015 election by going to our website or following us on Twitter. This message does not contravene Canada’s new anti-spam law because it is not spam. Spam is defined by the new law as “commercial electronic messages” (CEMs) whose purpose is to encourage the recipient to participate in commercial activity. Our message was not “commercial”. The following examples of CEMs are provided on the CRTC website:
• offers to purchase, sell, barter or lease a product, goods, a service, land or an interest or right in land;
• offers to provide a business, investment or gaming opportunity;
• promoting a person, including the public image of a person, as being a person who does anything referred to above, or who intends to do so.
Lloyd Longfield, the President of the GCC, has acknowledged that our message was not spam in communications he has had over the past two days with two different EDA Board members. Furthermore, in an email to EDA President Steve Vos dated Thursday, July 10 at 2:04 a.m., he wrote that the Winnipeg Chamber has “weighed in” on the issue through social media and has corrected the Guelph Chamber’s misunderstanding of the legislation by confirming that “(the) anti-spam (legislation) did not apply to political parties as you said.”
In addition to this clarification that our message was not spam, it is also important to clarify that the EDA’s creation and use of a GCC mailing list to send out our email was completely within our rights as a member of the GCC. GCC members are encouraged to exchange information with each other. Accordingly, they are given a membership directory that contains contact information and the following statement: “Promote your business through our networking opportunities, advertising, and referrals.” Furthermore, the GCC promotes inclusion in the directory on their website “to assist members and non-members to contact your business.” The following statement is posted below the Guelph Connect Business Directory Form at http://www.guelphchamber.com/guelph-connect-business-directory-form.
“The information provided in this application is not information which is considered “personal information” under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act of Canada. Notwithstanding, we wish to advise that the information provided may be posted on our website, members directory, or any other similar membership listing we may publish in order to assist members and non-members to contact your business. We also sell to members and non-members, a list of our members, which includes the name of your business, mailing address and the name of your main contact person. Should you have any concerns or questions regarding your privacy, please contact our Privacy Officer, Lloyd Longfield at 519-822-8081.”
Oddly, despite the above published GCC statements, Mr. Longfield has advised the EDA that the GCC does not want mass emails issued to its members for “etiquette” reasons. However, he has admitted to us that there is no specific GCC rule preventing mass emails. Furthermore, he has admitted that that the GCC has no published material that helps educate its members about the “etiquette” associated with member-to-member contact.
Finally, it is important to recognize that the anti-spam law that went into effect on July 1, 2014 was actually passed in 2010 when the Conservatives had a minority government. Passage was achieved with support from the other parties sitting in the House of Commons that wished to provide this protection for Canadian consumers. Therefore this law was a multi-partisan effort and it is false to imply otherwise by calling it “Conservative legislation”.
We hope that the above information helps organizations and news outlets in Guelph to better understand the new anti-spam legislation and to realize that much of the information spread about the law and our message over the past two days is, in fact, misinformation. We encourage anyone interested in finding out more about the new anti-spam legislation (known as CASL) to read the FAQs pages available on numerous Federal Department websites.