Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 05.11.05
Stanstead, Quebec


Scent of a Tory Canuck

Canada's Environment Minister John Baird released the latest amendment to the Conservative government's Clean-ish Air Act yesterday, calling for a reduction in perfumes, fragrances, and body sprays.

"It just makes 'scents' to get tough on personal scents," said Baird who for the fourth time this week thought he was the wittiest person in the room.

After the awkward silence, Baird went on to explain to reporters that personal air quality was as critical to Canadians' quality of life as atmospheric air quality. Workplaces and public places, he said, are being overrun by overpowering perfumes.

"This issue is of great importance to myself and to the Prime Minister," he said. "For too long our Liberal predecessors allowed the proliferation of magazine scent strips and the unregulated production of unpalatable body sprays. What are the Liberals trying to 'cover up,' I ask you. Is there some kind of 'stink' they've been trying to hide all these years? Well, let me tell you, the Conservatives are different. When you smell John Baird, you're smelling only John Baird!"

The Conservative plan will not see a ban on personal fragrance, nor will it result in a reduction in so-called "cat-house gasses" to 1990 levels, as Canada previously signed on to do under the international Coco Accord.

Instead, the Conservative plan will set intensity-based targets, limiting the intensity of perfume strengths but allowing fragrance manufacturers to continue churning out fragrances to meet demand, even if that demand grows. At the same time, the legislation will create deterrents for individual users who tend to over-spritz.

"Imposing burdensome restrictions on the perfume industry would result in the economic collapse of the Canadian perfume industry," explained Baird. "You want to know a good smell? The smell of money."

Baird deflected criticism that the Conservative plan caters to perfume manufacturers rather than offer any real reduction in rank aromatics. The plan, he insisted, is tough on the industry.

"I've heard a lot of people in the industry say they're actually sweating over this plan of ours - and these guys don't like sweat. But they don't want to speak out because they fear being seen as a bunch of perfume-pushing pansies," he said. "But I'm here today to say that this is a fair deal for all Canadians, even pansies."

The minister also stated that it was unfair to ask industry to shoulder the full burden for fragrance change when it is merely meeting public demands.

Besides, Baird pointed, there are some people who really do need to use some sort of personal fragrance. "If you've ever attended an NDP caucus, you know what I'm talking about," he said.

Following another awkward silence, Baird called the deal a "win-win situation" for perfume manufacturers and the Canadian public.

"The Conservative government has looked at all sides, listened to our constituents and at the end of the day you'll see we've created a balanced and fair plan that will ensure that those big fat campaign contributions continue unabated," he added.

Among the initiatives to deter personal scent use:

- Renaming deodorant products to reflect their actual scent. For example, "Mountain Rain" would be changed to "Talc and Menthol," while "Action Sport" would become "Locker Room Ammonia." -

- Commercials for body sprays would not show nubile babes flocking to scent-saturated males but those same women fleeing and gagging. -

- Workers who exceed acceptable levels of floridness will be forced to join the smokers and other pariahs outside. -

- And in what is seen by some as a contradiction, the federal government will manufacture and market its own line of men's and women's fragrances. Baird downplayed any contradiction, saying that the best way for the government to oversee the controlled use of fragrances was to become a player itself in the industry. The fragrance will be marketed as "Stephen Harper's Duplicitous."