Quebec debates anti-scalpers bill
Opinions are split over the Quebec government's attempt to ban the reselling of concert and sporting events tickets by third parties, as a parliamentary committee moves into its second day of hearings on the topic.
Bill 25 aims to make it illegal for scalpers to sell tickets for major events above the original, authorized price.
The bill is short and to the point, proposing the following amendment to Quebec's consumer protection law: "No business will be allowed to ask a consumer to pay more than the price of a show or event announced by the seller authorized by the show or event's producer."
Fines proposed by the bill could range from $2,000 to $100,000 for people caught scalping tickets for a profit.
Major players in the province's entertainment industry are behind the bill, saying ticket reselling costs the industry millions of dollars each year and costs consumers as well.
"When your fans pay twice the price, this is a big issue," said Claude Larivée of l'ADISQ, Quebec's music industry group.
André Picard, with comedy festival Just For Laughs said online brokers buy tickets as soon as they go on sale, mark up the price, and many consumers are not even aware they are buying tickets from a third party.
"Afterwards, you'll learn that there were tickets available at half the price," Picard said. "That's unacceptable."
But Quebec's Union des consommateurs argued the bill was "dangerous" in front of the parliamentary committee Monday.
The consumer lobby said the bill could create a monopoly for ticket sellers and would not necessarily protect consumers.
Several online tickets websites also oppose the bill, saying there are other ways to regulate the practice.
Billet.ca and 514-Billets are proposing the government create a permit system instead of outright banning ticket reselling.
Lawyer Julius Grey, who represents Quality Plus Tickets, said ticket resellers are in a legitimate business of brokering, and that they have no assurance they will make money when they scoop up tickets for events or hockey games.
"What they're doing is taking a chance," Grey said.
Proponents of the bill argued that resellers stick to well-known attractions to ensure that they'll be able to unload the tickets with a healthy markup.
Hearings on the proposed legislation wrap up Tuesday afternoon.