Winnipeggers weigh in on Don Cherry's dismissal
Psychologist, NDP leader say comments were inexcusable
Hockey fans in Winnipeg had mixed feelings about the news of Don Cherry's termination, with some saying they supported the longtime broadcaster's right to his opinion.
But Dr. Rehman Abdulrehman, a psychologist who specializes in diversity and inclusion issues, says it was time for Cherry to move on after years of controversial and divisive comments.
"The issue here, ultimately, is that people don't see it as a problem because they don't live that life," he said.
Cherry, 85, has long been known for being brash and outspoken but his latest comments cost him his job on Monday. He called new immigrants "you people" on his Coach's Corner segment while claiming they don't wear poppies in honour of Canadian veterans.
Outside Bell MTS Place for Monday's Manitoba Moose game, Howard Pratt said he felt Cherry should be free to express his opinions.
"I think a person should be allowed to speak their mind and unfortunately, in today's time and age, you have to be politically correct in everything that you say or do," he said.
"I think that sometimes it's a little bit hogwash."
Bob Bidder said he thought Sportsnet overreacted by firing Cherry.
"It's unfortunate it came out the way it did. He means well with what he does," Bidder said.
"Give him a chance. I think that's a knee-jerk reaction."
However, Jeff Ranger, an Australian who was in Winnipeg for a father-son hockey-centric vacation, said he thought Sportsnet made the right call.
"We've had similar instances in Australia. where commentators have made sexist comments or some that are racially motivated. I think that's the right action, to suspend or terminate," he said.
"I think they've been brave in what they've done."
Time for Cherry to go, psychologist, NDP leader say
Abdulrehman says those who don't think Cherry's comments were a big deal should reflect on why that is.
"When you have the lived experience of being … a person who comes from a marginalized group, you understand the discrimination that is experienced by people," he said.
"All of a sudden your experiences do become a big deal."
He thinks it was time for Cherry to go and that his age is not an excuse for his remarks.
"The number of times he's actually engaged in many of these kind of xenophobic remarks is quite excessive. I think we've tolerated that a lot as a society," he said.
"The dilemma is that he's a leader and he has great influence on the thinking of other people, and leaders need to start to be mindful, actually, about the impact of their words on the people who look up to them."
Manitoba NDP Leader, Wab Kinew called for Cherry's dismissal Monday, saying the comments crossed the line.
Speaking with CBC's Up to Speed host Ismaila Alfa, Kinew said Cherry's comments were hurtful and that people in the hockey world should be working to make the game more inclusive.
"We ought to be doing everything that we can to open our arms and to bring people in and to welcome people and to let people know that the culture of the rink and the culture of the game accepts them," he said.
"So I think, on that basis alone, you have to say that it was time for Don Cherry to move on because his comments are not reflective of what we want our game to be today."