Male transit commissioner says foul stench at Parliament station is a 'gender equity thing', women are more sensitive to bad smells

Michael Olsen says it is a "scientific fact" that women are more sensitive to bad smells, like the stench at Parliament station LRT.

An already tense Ottawa Transit Commission meeting went further downhill on Wednesday, as Commissioners debated the chronic bad smell at Parliament station.

One citizen transit Commissioner Michael Olsen, called the problem "a gender equity thing",  suggesting women Commissioners were complaining about the problem because it is a “scientific fact” that females are more sensitive to smell.

Olsen said he didn’t smell anything at the station this morning, perhaps because he is a man.

He directed his comments at Commissioner Sarah Wright-Gilbert, a frequent critic of OC Transpo and the smell at Parliament station.   

“I’m not suggesting she smelled something that wasn’t there, but I smelled nothing, I’m not sure what the issue is, or if in fact there is an issue,” he said.

“I’m sorry Mr. Chair I take offense to Commissioner Olsen’s comments that I’m smelling things because I’m a female, I’m going to ask for an apology. Now please,” Wright-Gilbert said.

“No I will not give it”, Olsen responded.

 Later, Olsen apologized if any of the female Commissioners were offended by his comments.

He also apparently Googled information on his laptop and shoved it towards Wright-Gilbert, trying to offer evidence that women are more sensitive to smell.  

Reached later, Wright-Gilbert said: “His apology was forced and not genuine and I do not accept it”, she wrote to CTV Ottawa.

I will have more to say about the sexism that was directed towards me at today’s Transit Commission meeting. But right now, I have to head back to work for a 2pm meeting. #TransitCommissioner

— Sarah Wright-Gilbert (@sarahmeaghang) December 18, 2019