Local MP joins chorus calling for Don Cherry to apologize
Greg Fergus's grandfather served in the RAF before immigrating to Canada
Hull–Aylmer MP Greg Fergus is calling on the now-fired Don Cherry to apologize for comments he made regarding immigrants and Remembrance Day during his Saturday night segment on Hockey Night in Canada.
Cherry said during Coach's Corner that he's less frequently seeing people wearing poppies to honour fallen Canadian soldiers, singling out those he believes are immigrants in Toronto.
"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," Cherry said.
"These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada. These guys paid the biggest price."
The remarks prompted a swift online backlash — and Monday afternoon, Sportsnet said he was immediately stepping down.
Cherry has yet to issue any further public comment.
Shortly after the segment aired, Fergus took to Twitter, calling on Cherry to apologize and invoking his own grandfather, who was born on the island of Montserrat in the Caribbean and served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War.
Seven decades later, I am able to take my seat in the House of Commons and serve my country. Mr. Cherry: my grandfather's story is not unique. I trust you are a big enough man to apologize for your comments.—@GregFergus
In an interview with Radio-Canada, Fergus said Cherry's comments have no place in Canada.
"It's completely ahistorical," he said. "I think it's really important for [Cherry] to understand the [contributions] so many immigrants have made towards this country, and he should realize that, learn about it, and also present his apologies."
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Fergus said his grandfather immigrated to Canada with his family after the Second World War.
The MP also contradicted Cherry's claim that immigrants don't wear poppies.
"There are a lot of immigrants with poppies," he said. "Many immigrants who have come to this country who have served. [They are] people who have given, or their relatives have given, to the effort, to making sure that we can enjoy the kind of life we have here now in Canada."
Sportsnet issues apology
Sportsnet president Bart Yabsley put forward an apology Sunday.
"Don's discriminatory comments are offensive and they do not represent our values," said a statement tweeted by the network.
Statement from Sportsnet: <a href="https://t.co/QZ76r9Y7sb">pic.twitter.com/QZ76r9Y7sb</a>—@SportsnetPR
Monday's statement said the network had again spoken to Cherry about his remarks and "it has been decided it is the right time for him to immediately step down."
It also thanked Cherry for his contributions to hockey and sports broadcasting.
Statement from Sportsnet: <a href="https://t.co/LRKrww0AQ1">pic.twitter.com/LRKrww0AQ1</a>—@SportsnetPR
Ron MacLean, Cherry's longtime co-host on Coach's Corner, addressed the comments during an opening statement on Rogers Home Town Hockey.
"Don Cherry made remarks which were hurtful, discriminatory and flat-out wrong.... I sincerely apologize and I wanted to thank you [the audience] for calling me and Don out on that last night."
MacLean also offered an apology on Twitter.
I have worked with Don for 30 years, and we both love hockey. 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.—@RonMacLeanHTH
Hockey Night in Canada used to be a long-time CBC Saturday night staple. The show and its games moved to Sportsnet when Rogers landed a 12-year broadcast rights deal with the NHL that began in 2014.
The show is still broadcast on CBC in a sub-licencing deal with Rogers Media, which owns Sportsnet. But the show is run by Sportsnet and filmed in its studio in the CBC building in Toronto.
Cherry made his remarks prior to running his annual Remembrance Day video montage, where he is seen walking through a military cemetery in France, visiting the graves of Canadian soldiers who fought in the First World War.
Poppies are made available every year by the Royal Canadian Legion, from the last Friday in October until Remembrance Day on Nov. 11. Any money raised goes to support of veterans and their families.
With files from Canadian Press