Don Cherry fired 'immediately' after controversial comments; B.C. politicians react
VANCOUVER - Canada's most well-known sports commentator has been fired following a televised rant that drew criticism from local politicians.
In a message posted on Twitter, his employer announced Don Cherry is no longer with Sportsnet.
The host of Coach's Corner, a segment that airs during Hockey Night in Canada, "made divisive remarks" on air over the weekend that do not represent the company's values, president Bart Yabsley said.
"Sports brings people together – it unites us, not divides us. Following further discussions with Don Cherry after Saturday night's broadcast, it has been decided it is the right time for him to immediately step down," he wrote.
"Don is synonymous with hockey and has played an integral role in growing the game over the past 40 years. We would like to thank Don for his contributions to hockey and sports broadcasting in Canada."
The update followed outpourings of both support and opposition on social media.
Cherry addressed immigrants on Coach's Corner on Saturday, claiming newcomers in the Toronto area aren't honouring Canada's veterans.
"You people… You come here, whatever it is. You love our way of life. You love our milk and honey. At least you can pay a couple of bucks for a poppy or something like that," the 85-year-old said, in part.
"These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada. These guys paid the biggest price."
The Hockey Night in Canada host has not apologized, but the network issued a statement calling his comments "discriminatory" and "offensive."
Some posted that they sided with Cherry's statement, but the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council was so overloaded with complaints over the weekend that it was not able to accept anymore.
"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," the self-regulatory council said in a post online.
"Accordingly, while the CBSC will be dealing with this broadcast under its normal process, it is not able to accept any further complaints."
Reaction from B.C. politicians
His rant was also criticized on social media by members of the public and by Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.
The Vancouver South MP, who served in Afghanistan, spoke to CTV News Monday about Cherry's remarks.
"It was very disappointing to hear those types of comments because we have such great diversity, which you see here today… you see the diversity in our ranks," he said following Vancouver's Remembrance Day ceremony.
"I want to make sure they are encouraged to join, so it was very disappointing. But I wanted to make sure that we take this moment as a reflection to learn about the tremendous history that we have, and diversity has been part of not only the Canadian Armed Forces but all other forces."
Sajjan said he knows how appreciative many immigrants are to come to Canada, and that during his time in the military, he asked some of the people he met why they'd joined.
He said many of them told him they signed up to "thank" Canada: "Look at this opportunity that has been given."
Looking around, the minister said it was "heartwarming" to see the diversity in the crowd gathered to mark the sombre occasion at Vancouver's cenotaph.
Sajjan made a point of bringing up that diversity in a series of messages posted on Twitter Sunday.
"Last night, Don Cherry made comments that are wrong in describing Canadians' remembrance of our veterans," he wrote.
"His remarks don't recognize the contribution of Canada's diverse communities. I hope we can turn this into a moment where we can learn about all who have served."
Sajjan highlighted several veterans, including Chinese-Canadian Frank Wong. The Vancouver-born soldier was on Juno Beach, and was in Holland for its liberation in the Second World War, he wrote.
He also shared photos of veterans who were black, Sikh and Indigenous, as well as a woman who served as a lieutenant colonel. (See the images below)
"I hope that all Canadians can learn from the sacrifices of the brave women and men of the Canadian Forces have made and continue to make for each and every one of us. Canadians know that diversity is our strength and our proud military history shows that," he wrote.
Another prominent B.C. politician, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also posted about Cherry's comments, writing, "Don, let me introduce you to 'you people.'"
The Burnaby South MP posted a photo of his great-grandfather who served with the British in the First and Second World Wars.
"We honour all who served," he wrote.
"There is no 'you people.' We're all as Canadian as the next."