Ottawa

Scrapped scalper law wouldn't have worked anyway, local promoter says

The new Ford government has put a law that would have capped ticket scalping resale prices at 50 per cent above the original face on hold.

'As long as human nature is involved and people wanting to see an artist that they love, it'll never change'

Tom Petty was the final performer on the main stage at the 2017 edition of Bluesfest in Ottawa. Passes to Bluesfest can be purchased on websites such as StubHub. (YouTube)

The new Ford government has put a law that would have capped ticket scalping resale prices at 50 per cent above the original face on hold.

A spokesman for the new provincial government says the law passed by the Liberals was unenforceable. The new government says it will review the section of the consumer protection law that deals with ticket resales.

Longtime Ottawa concert promoter Dennis Ruffo was a guest on CBC's All In A Day Wednesday. Here's part of that conversation:

Was the legislation unenforceable?
Totally, in my opinion. Especially when you consider most of the after market sellers were American based. How can you prevent someone from putting tickets up on StubHub when the transaction is going to be held in the U.S.A.? I don't know how to do it... The other issue to me is that if anybody ready to pay the kind of money that some people pay for a concert ticket, I mean really, it's their prerogative if they have the money to spend stupidly. How can you prevent it?

Should this be something the government is going after?
Honestly, I really don't think so. It's too difficult a thing to police. This may be a strange example, but it was never a problem for anyone who wanted to smoke marijuana for the last 75 years to get it. The government's involved. I wonder if the people who were selling it to those people are going out of business because of it. The point being it's like buyer beware. If you want to do something, how can the government prevent you from doing it? How can the government prevent someone from going online and paying $5,000 for a ticket to a basketball game during the NBA playoffs? And people did.

Why do we get such crazy ticket prices for concerts and sporting events?
It's just basic human nature. I mean, people who go to concerts go for emotional reasons. There's an attachment there with the artist right? Or why else would they go? 

Is there an effect on music fandom when they can't get into the show. They can't afford the prices. Does anything happen to the live audience as a result?
The short answer is no. I don't think it affects it at all. I think that if a kid wants to see ... Justin Timberlake at the Canadian Tire Centre ... those kids will find the money to go see Justin Timberlake. I think, at the end of the day, if the artists were concerned about it they would find a way of not selling tickets that way.

So is there a way of ever changing the system?
I think as long as emotion is involved and human nature and people wanting to see an artist that they love, it'll never change. The thing that I don't understand is why people aren't smart enough to go deeper into Google, for example, and go directly to the venues selling the tickets. I have people saying, 'I Googled your show and tickets are selling for $500. Well, you know, the first line of Google is actually an after-market ticket seller. It wasn't the venue." 

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