Canada’s broadcast watchdog can’t handle any more complaints about Don Cherry

Nov 11 2019, 1:05 pm

Don Cherry has crossed the line for the last time.

On Monday, the 85-year-old and long-time commentator was let go from Hockey Night in Canada.

Sportsnet President Bart Yabsley made the announcement, two days after Cherry made disparaging remarks about immigrants during a broadcast.

“Sports brings people together — it unites us, not divides us,” Yabsley said in a media release. “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.”

The announcement follows Cherry’s on-air rant about immigrants during his “Coach’s Corner” segment over the weekend.

This time, ahead of Remembrance Day, he referred to new immigrants as “you people” and said those who don’t wear poppies aren’t supporting veterans and are ungrateful.

His comments sparked a swift backlash from the public, politicians, and the NHL.

During Saturday evening’s Coach’s Corner segment, Cherry, who has been hosting the program since 1982, said the following:

“You people … you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that,” said while his co-host Ron MacLean looked on.

“These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price.”

On Monday, following Cherry’s offside comments, the Canada Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) said it received a “large number” of similar complaints and that its system is no longer able to accept any more.

“The CBSC has received a large number of very similar complaints concerns Coach’s Corner broadcast on CBC (Sportsnet) on November 9, 2019, exceeding the CBSC’s technical processing capacities,” said CBSC in a statement.

Screenshot of CBSC’s statement.

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

The comments have since brought forward apologies from Sportsnet, which airs Coach’s Corner, Cherry’s co-host MacLean, the NHL, and Canadian politicians.

MacLean apologized for Cherry’s “hurtful” and “prejudiced” comments and said he wished he handled himself differently.

“It was a divisive moment and I am truly upset with myself for allowing it,” said MacLean in a statement.

Hockey Night in Canada studio host David Amber said this week has allowed him to reflect on how he views Canada.

The NHL said in a statement that Cherry’s remarks 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 in a statement on Sunday.

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

Burnaby South MP and federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh tweeted a powerful response to Cherry’s comments on Sunday.

“All sorts of people have served and paid the ultimate sacrifice in the name of Canada. Women, immigrants, LGBTQ2S Cdns, Indigenous people. There is no “#youpeople.” We’re all as Canadian as the next. We honour all who served. That’s what Canada is all about.”

“Don, let me introduce you to “#youpeople” My great grandfather, Hira Singh, who served in WW1 and WW2 under the British. We honour all who served,” Singh tweeted.

The mayor of Mississauga, Bonnie Crombie, called his comments “despicable.”

“We’re proud of diverse cultural heritage and we’ll always stand up for it,” she said on Twitter. “New immigrants enrich our country for the better. We’re all Canadians and wear our poppies proudly.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory invited Cherry to come to Old City Hall on Remembrance Day to “see thousands of Canadians of all ages, nationalities, faiths, and backgrounds” honour Canada’s veterans.

“Don Cherry is way off base to question the devotion of newer Canadians to the very same veterans and the sacrifices we will honour tomorrow on Remembrance Day,” Tory said in a statement.

“His comments are unfair and just plain wrong.”