don cherry

Canadians want Don Cherry fired for his rant about immigrants and poppies

Canadian sports commentator Don Cherry — the longtime face of Hockey Night in Canada — has said some truly outrageous things over the course of his television career, from championing America's invasion of Iraq to panning those who believe in climate change as "cuckaloos" and "left-wing kooks."

Somehow, despite all of the controversy he's stirred up with his opinions, outspokenness and outrageous outfits over the years, the retired NHL coach has held his position as the co-host of Coach's Corner for more than three decades.

Media critics have been wondering aloud for years when enough would be enough, and it looks like the time has finally come.

Cherry, 85, is public enemy number-one on Twitter this Remembrance Day after alleging on live TV that immigrants don't wear poppies.

"You people that come here, you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple of bucks for poppies or something like that," said Cherry during Saturday's Hockey Night in Canada broadcast.

"These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada."

Cherry's comments spurred immediate backlash, with critics calling his words disgusting, abhorrent, xenophobic, racist and downright un-Canadian.

Thousands of HNIC viewers immediately took to Twitter following Cherry's remarks, pointing out just how wrong the sportscaster was to have implied that immigrants had nothing to do with earning the hard-fought freedoms we enjoy in Canada.

"Don Cherry should go to a Remembrance Day parade in Vancouver and observe that almost all the cadets are children of Asian immigrants. 90% at least," wrote one. "Then he should go kiss their feet."

"He should have done more research before opening his mouth," said a mosque leader in Regina.

"We should remember that in World War I, more than 2.5 million Indians fought for the British Empire. More than 90,000 people died. That was an effort from this so-called immigrant population."

Even more impactful have been messages from the families of immigrant soldiers who supported Canada's war efforts, fighting for rights such as the freedom of speech, which Cherry used to slap them in the face with on Saturday night.

"All sorts of people have served and paid the ultimate sacrifice in the name of Canada. Women, immigrants, LGBTQ2S Cdns, Indigenous people," wrote federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh in response to Cherry's remarks.

"There is no '#youpeople'. We’re all as Canadian as the next. We honour all who served. That's what Canada is all about."

Both the NHL and Sportsnet, the Rogers-owned TV network that airs Hockey Night in Canada, have apologized for Cherry's latest controversial rant.

"Hockey is at its best when it brings people together," reads a statement from the NHL. "The comments made last night were offensive and contrary to the values we believe in."

"Don's discriminatory comments are offensive and they do not represent our values and what we stand for as a network," said Sportsnet president Bart Yabsley similarly in a statement issued on Sunday.

"We have spoken directly with Don about the severity of this issue and we sincerely apologize for these divisive remarks."

Even Cherry's longtime co-host Ron MacLean has apologized for the segment, writing in a statement: "Don made comments that were hurtful and prejudiced and I wish I had handled myself differently."

"It was a divisive moment and I am truly upset with myself for allowing it. I have worked with Don for 30 years, and we both love hockey," MacLean continued.

"But last night, I know we failed you. I see hockey as part of what unites us. I have the honour of travelling across our country to celebrate Canada's game, and our diversity is one of our country's greatest strengths."

Cherry himself has yet to address the controversy or apologize for his remarks.

"Don Cherry is not held to a higher standard than Justin Trudeau," wrote one critic, pointing to the newly-elected Prime Minister's recent blackface scandal.

"There was an recent election where Canadians were able to judge the record of Justin Trudeau. One man apologized for his past mistakes and was accountable, one man will continue spewing xenophobic hate."

In lieu of an apology from Cherry, Canadians are calling for him to be fired en masse.

Even if the veteran hockey commentator were to apologize, it's too little, too late, too much and has been happening for too long, some say.

"The time has arrived for Don Cherry to STFU permanently," commented one critic. "His racist, homophobic, misogynist, xenophobic, loathsome rants should no longer be broadcast. He is an abomination, and a festering pustule of hate-mongering."

The hashtag #FireDonCherry has been gaining steam since Saturday evening, with many Twitter users encouraging their peers to contact Sportsnet and ask for the host's dismissal.

So many people have been contacting the Canada Broadcast Standards Council, in fact, that the regulator is no longer accepting complaints related to Cherry's controversial HNIC segment.

"The CBSC has received a large number of very similar complaints concerning Coach’s Corner broadcast on CBC (Sportsnet) on November 9, 2019, exceeding the CBSC's technical processing capacities," reads a notice on the regulatory body's website as of Monday morning.

"Accordingly, while the CBSC will be dealing with this broadcast under its normal process, it is not able to accept any further complaints."

What happens to Cherry remains to be seen, but its of note that several major Canadian news outlets — including Sportsnet — are running opinion pieces this morning arguing that he should, at long last, be canned.

"It is time for Sportsnet to cut ties with Mr. Cherry unless they are keen on bankrolling the intolerant, unacceptable systems of discrimination that ruin sport," wrote Shireen Ahmed, whose maternal and paternal grandfathers fought with Canada during WWII, for The Globe and Mail.

"Fighting for justice and equality is what hockey needs. Don Cherry is the enemy of this fight. He needs to be muted – permanently."

Lead photo by

Kevin Vahey

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