Ticket brokers and the Quebec government appear to be headed toward a possible legal battle as the Canadian province inches closer to adopting strict new laws that would virtually wipe out its ticket resale market.
Bill 25 could be sent to the legislature for a vote as early as this week, following a closed-door meeting of legislators and Justice Minister Jean-Marc Fournier last week where an amendment was tacked on that would require a broker to obtain permission from an artist, team, promoter or venue before they could resell tickets. Considering that group lobbied for the strict law in the first place, it will be difficult, at best, for brokers to gain permission.
The bill outlaws ticket resale for amounts above face value, which Fournier, the Montreal Canadiens, the musicians union L’ADISQ and others claim protects consumers by keeping ticket prices at their intended levels.
However, brokers and advocates for an open, market-driven ticket resale industry in the province argue that the bill will have the opposite effect. While brokers often resell tickets for premiums above face value, they also often resell tickets for below face value, which will likely not happen if artists control prices.
“Where are they protecting consumers?” Angie Coss, spokesperson for Montreal-based Quality Plus Tickets, asked, adding that Quebec hotels also are against the bill because they believe it could devastate the tourism industry. “They’re protecting the artists. Artists are being given all the power.”
Coss told TicketNews that according to estimates by Canadian Ticket Brokers Association (CTBA) and others, only about 4 percent of tickets for events in Quebec are bought by resellers, far lower than the amounts Fournier and proponents of the law have suggested. With such a low amount of tickets being purchased by brokers, they are not the ones snatching tickets away from fans, Coss said. Quebec has about a dozen online ticket resellers located in the province, which employ a total of about 100 people.
Jeannine Lahaye, communications consultant for the justice minister’s office, did not immediately reply to a message seeking comment.
Quality Plus Tickets and the CTBA are working with Montreal attorney Julius Grey concerning an extension before Fournier presents the bill to the legislature, but they have not heard back on whether an extension will be granted. Grey could not be reached for comment.
Coss said the next step may have to be a legal action. “We can’t do anything until it becomes law and fines are issued,” she said.