Toronto

Raptors ticket prices have critics blaming Ford government for scrapping resale rule

The PC government should not have scrapped part of the law that capped resale ticket prices, critics say in response to reports of sky-high prices for NBA Finals tickets in Toronto.

Liberal legislation would have capped prices at 50% of face value

PC MPP Roman Baber wears a Raptors jersey in the legislature May 27. (Ontario Legislative Assembly)

Doug Ford's government is under fire for scrapping part of the legislation that would have capped the price of resale tickets at 50 per cent of face value as tickets to the Toronto Raptors' first game of the NBA Finals have skyrocketed to as high as $60,000.

The Progressive Conservatives paused implementation of that section of the Ticket Sales Act shortly after winning the election in June 2018. It was cancelled altogether in the spring budget. 

At the time, the government argued the rule was unenforceable. On Wednesday, the minister of Government and Consumer Services said the market should determine prices, not the government. 

"If you want to willingly pay, who am I to say you can't do that?" said Bill Walker. "It's no different than if you want to drive a high-end car." 

The NDP disputes that argument, saying the PCs are favouring the rich. 

"Anybody that wants to see a sports game like basketball should have a fair chance of being able to do that," said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.

"Who are we trying to cater to? The very rich friends of Mr. Ford who can afford the Ferrari?" said Marie-France Lalonde, who was the Liberal consumer services minister when it introduced the rule after fans complained about being shut out of the Tragically Hip's farewell tour. 

While Lalonde doesn't dispute it would have been hard to enforce, she says the purpose was to educate consumers and sellers. 

"You're undermining the fan base," she said. 

The legislation still outlaws "scalper bots" that scoop up blocks of tickets for resale and preserves the accompanying increase in fines. 

About the Author

Lisa Xing is a journalist by trade and a historian by degree. She's also a creative writer, photographer and traveller, dabbling in camping, canoeing and crafting. Email Lisa.Xing@cbc.ca.

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