Becky, a displaced American in Saskatoon (poor thing), writes of her consternation over Canadian contests:
And the best thing of all, regarding Canadian contests — the skills question you’re forced to answer if you win. Hmmm, let me get this right — in order for my to claim my free donut at Tim Horton’s, I have to answer an addition, multiplication, and division question?
In Canada, if you win a contest, you haven’t actually ‘won’ yet. First, you have to complete a skill-testing question. Usually this is a straight-forward math question that anybody who remembers their orders of operation from grade 8 could answer. For example:
2 * (18-4) + 4 = ?
As this article explains, it’s a peculiarity of Canadian law:
Under the Criminal Code, it is illegal to hold a lottery without a licence. Giving away a prize based on chance alone — a random draw, for instance — is considered a form of lottery. The contest industry invented the skill-testing question to get around that restriction. If a contest includes an element of skill, it is no longer considered purely a game of chance.
“It’s a loophole, basically, and to the best of my knowledge Canada is the only country that has that requirement,” said Toronto lawyer Brenda Pritchard, who is co-authoring a book called Advertising and Marketing Law in Canada that devotes an entire chapter to contests.
Like most things, I think the laws are different in Quebec.