Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) came into force on July 1, 2014. It is intended to protect Canadians from unsolicited commercial electronic messages and to reduce electronic threats to commerce. Under CASL, a commercial electronic message is broadly defined as any "message that encourages participation in a commercial activity, including, but not limited to: offering, advertising or promoting a product, a service or a person." While the provincial and federal governments are exempt from this legislation, there has been debate about whether municipal governments are subject to CASL.
The CRTC – the primary enforcement agency for CASL – maintains that municipal governments could potentially be subject to CASL, depending on its activities. While it may appear that electronic messages sent by local governments would rarely be commercial in nature, it is important to understand how CASL could apply within this context.