Okay, I think I'm short of that, so you'll be relieved to know that.
No doubt you will all have done your homework and read the Hansard when I introduced my private member's bill, Bill 22, the ticket speculation amendment act, on September 27, 2016. In short, I came up with this bill because of the outcry that came to my office as the MPP for Kingston and the Islands when The Tragically Hip fans were shut out of buying tickets for the Hip's last concert.
Complaints came from all across the country, in fact, from outraged fans who had quite simply had enough of being shut out of the ticket buying process as a result of cost and a lack of availability of tickets.
There is no doubt that there was a significant emotional component to their outrage because of the circumstances of Gord Downie's tragic health diagnosis, but based on what I heard, what we were seeing was the culmination of many years of increasing frustration regarding inaccessible events. Parents spoke to me passionately about not being able to afford to buy tickets for their children's favourite bands. Cultural opportunities for many were quite simply out of reach.
I knew that something needed to be done.
There are a number of other jurisdictions that are committed to tackling the unscrupulous practice of massive markups in the secondary ticket selling market, whether it is due to bot technology or more standard secondary ticket selling sites' practices.
ln order to effectively evaluate the legislative framework surrounding ticket sales regulation, it is imperative that this work be considered from a detailed understanding of the market. Scrupulous attention should be paid to the influence of all, especially the big players in this highly lucrative and multi-million-dollar industry. There is no doubt that it is in their interest to blunt the scrutiny of their own activities, limit enforcement and allow the problem to continue on its merry way.
Just because the e-economy is difficult does not mean that we should throw up our hands and surrender to big interests at the expense of artists, athletes and the very fabric of the public's cultural life. That's the goal of those who wish that their practices be kept under the veil of secrecy.
There is clearly a role for the government, and Canada now has an opportunity to act on behalf of all Canadians now and in the future.
Following the tabling of my private member's bill and the subsequent government bill that followed, we did two fan town halls and round tables and an online public survey. The survey went from March 1 to March 17, 2017 and received 34,714 responses with over 22,000 responses coming in the first 24 hours. There were over 5,000 written responses in open text boxes. This was the most popular online survey with the most public interaction in Ontario's history, clearly demonstrating the high degree of interest and public appetite for this bill.
After the round tables and survey were complete, we commissioned a report from Michael Waterson, professor of economics at University of Warwick, who did a report for the U.K. government in May of 2016. Some of the background material that I have added for you at the end of my speech is in reference, and there are notes from his report.
We requested that he describe and analyze the efficacy of ticket sales regulation in a range of jurisdictions outside Ontario, including the U.K., the U.S., Australia, Italy and other European countries.
ln short, Professor Waterson advised that many of the proposed changes by themselves would not constitute an appropriate response. As a package, the proposed model has the potential to render the opaque ticketing market much more transparent to consumers. The most important elements of the proposed model relate to bots and speculative ticketing, which will be appreciated by the public, but will also require enforcement.
Passing legislation will not be enough. Enforcement will also be required. An initial push should be followed by an assessment of suitable cases for prosecution, conviction if warranted, and sentencing as a disincentive to others.
Following that, the government bill had four primary pillars: access, affordability, transparency and enforcement.
Access is making sure that everyone has a fair chance at buying tickets for popular events. Through that, ban the use and sale of ticket bots and the sale or facilitation of the sale of tickets obtained through the use of ticket bots. Ban the sale of speculative tickets. Those are tickets that have no seat, row or section.
Affordability is addressing consumer concerns about resale prices and service charges. Cap the resale price of secondary tickets at no more than 50% above the face value of the primary seller's original price. Cap fees and other service charges.
Transparency is making more information available to consumers when they buy tickets. Impose requirements on primary seller and ticket resale platforms, including the reporting of suspected ticket bot activity, seat location of ticket, face value of ticket, currency, availability of pre-sales, number of tickets available at the general sale and commercial reseller's identity.
Enforcement is making sure that laws are followed. Provide enhanced enforcement mechanisms for government, police, industry and consumers, including a combination of private rights of action for industry and consumers, provincial offences, compliance orders and administrative monetary penalties.
Other considerations are to cap fees and other service charges, limit the percentage of tickets held back from the public, limit the number of tickets offered for resale, and create a provincial registration of ticket sellers and resale platforms.
In conclusion, there is one basic truth that we often fail to understand when we speak of access to cultural opportunities, ticket speculation and ticket bot software—namely, that the consumer who rages against excessive fees also participates in the inaccessible ticket conundrum. If the public were aware, as I'm sure most are, of the exorbitant markups that were clearly demonstrated by tickets printed with the original face value, they may be less inclined to participate in the transaction. They'll certainly be inclined to ask questions of the individual they're buying the ticket from, whether it's online or in person. As government, when we create legislation we are attempting to change behaviour. Legislation that bans or limits markups on tickets has the effect of informing the public, which hopefully will begin to limit the problem. Moral persuasion and aligning with a moral code of ethics may create some change. Knowing that they are being gouged, and by how much, may encourage buyers to beware.
I think in general if we're to have any success out of federal legislation we have to work with all stakeholders, and that obviously includes the provinces.
I think it's critical that there's a broad understanding of what we're working with and it's very complex. As soon as you start to get into this it's like the classic peeling of the onion. There are many layers. You've got the artist, the manager, the agent, the promoter, the venue—the venue is very important.
The Waterson report did not put a lot of emphasis on the venue, but if you think about what happens in a venue when a big concert comes to that venue, if you insist on having identity features, one person, one ticket, that's correlated to your licence or some sort of ID, how does the venue handle that? There would need to be sophisticated technology in the venue sites. In order to support that technology, it is appropriate that in some cases the artists may be asked to contribute to that. The ticketing agents may be asked to contribute to it.
You can't say the idea is that we need to have one person, one ticket, one piece of ID, and the venue's going to figure it out on their own, because it's going to be an absolute nightmare.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Mrs. Kiwala, you clearly are the exception to the rule with your pertinent and most forthright comments. The Tragically Hip show is now forever a part of Canadian heritage. It was a defining show in the history of Canadian culture. My congratulations. However, I remain sceptical about our committee's study of the matter. In the release that came when you published your bill, I saw that you had obtained the support of Tracy MacCharles, the Government of Ontario's Minister of Government and Consumer Services at the time. That's why I am telling you that you are the exception to the rule.
Getting back to the Tragically Hip show, some people seized on the opportunity to make a profit from ticket sales to a show that hit an emotional nerve for an entire nation. That action, and the hundreds of percent profit they made by reselling tickets is a total travesty. It is disgusting and immoral.
I'm wondering what you'd think if a bunch of kids decided to buy all the tomatoes in grocery stores in the GTA, and one U.S. company said they were going to start “Tomato-matic” to resell all these tomatoes and they'll just grab a person to sell to all these individually and make these sales. Would you think that Doug Ford would say that's okay—that's great?
It's the same situation. Clearly, no matter the topic or the product, this systematization of an individual opportunity is what's making it a big problem. It's the same thing as if I offer you a ride to go back to the train, and suddenly it becomes Uber and we make it free with no taxes.
To me, it's a good catch for the committee to have you here because you bring the very big exception. The biggest act in Canadian heritage and in Canadian pop music surely was The Tragically Hip, from sea to sea to sea. It is important to be courageous. You have been against strong winds for sure, and you did the right thing. I'm sorry to quote another Conservative, but it was a common sense thing to do, and I appreciate that.
In the cultural world we have to steer and advise the government.
I am so pleased to have found the headline of a news release from Telefilm Canada on the Internet. It mentions three people who are here today. "Telefilm Canada and the Rogers Group of Funds", one of whose representative has been overseeing things very seriously for several weeks, “celebrate 10 years of partnership as they announce their support of 18 documentary productions." One of those documentaries was about the Tragically Hip, in fact, and it was really fantastic.
This may be a bit of a stretch, but I have to tell you that, if we are going to discuss and vote on my motion shortly, I hope that you are not going to take out any of its daring content. Telefilm Canada shows that it has no understanding of the way the cinema industry works. The recent violent firings must remain the key to this motion.
Mrs. Kiwala, thank you very much for your involvement with the Tragically Hip concert. In my opinion, it is a specific example of the risk that some of our artists in Canada and Quebec are running. We have heard various points of view on this issue. Some producers have gone so far as to tell us that it would suit their purposes very well to sell their tickets in lots of 100 rather than singly, because the marketing costs would be significantly less.
Did you have any direct negative reactions from the entertainment sector after you introduced your bill?
I just have one comment.
I think the root of the problem in a lot of instances is the promoters. As another example, we had a premium CHL game at Harbour Station, Saint John. So, call it 6,000 seats. We had the event. We felt great about the event. The CHL said to us, “You're only selling 5,000 of those seats.” We said, “What do you mean, 5,000? Where are the other 1,000?” They said, “We're holding those.” We asked, “What are you doing with them? They said to us,“None of your business. Do you want the event or not?”
I would hazard a guess and bet you that the promoters themselves who controlled The Tragically Hip concert in that arena, if you dig in, held a ton of those tickets back. Number one, it creates a false market.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I'm glad that you helped us follow the money. I think there's a lot more work to do in following the money. It is billions and billions of dollars.
This is in a gentle response to my colleague, Mr. Shields.
I go to lots of junk sales and I think I should put my basement stuff onto one of them. Maybe I'd make some money. But there's a difference between things that are in abundance and things that are scarce, and everything we're talking about here is in a scarce market.
If I want that thing that you're selling at your sale, but some group comes and puts 10 groups in front of me and jacks up your one-dollar trophy to a hundred bucks so I don't even see it at a dollar, that's the issue, and that's the protection to the consumer. I can still buy it for a hundred dollars but I never even saw it at one dollar. The people in the middle, those new entrants to the market, who are not even there in person—they're in another space, coming in as bots—are able to press the button, have those agents there, and I don't even get to see your valuable treasure for a dollar. It's only ever a hundred dollars. I think there is something here about the scarcity and abundance market. A regulatory piece that tracks and follows the money is where we could have both the consumer protection.... I agree with you. We can't go too far because people can choose how to spend their money.