[UPDATE: Rogers Sportsnet has issued a response to Cherry's comments, shown in the tweet below]
Statement from Sportsnet: pic.twitter.com/QZ76r9Y7sb— Sportsnet PR (@SportsnetPR) November 10, 2019
Last night on Sportsnet's Hockey Night in Canada, our country's favourite (or least favourite, depending who you ask) former Boston Bruin may have finally proved once and for all that he's beyond his due date.
CTV reporter Rosa Hwang's tweet below shows his rant from last night's HNIC segment in which he disparages Toronto immigrants for not wearing poppies.
As you might imagine Hwang wasn't the only person to take to Twitter to talk about it.
Don Cherry’s rant on immigrants:— Rosa Hwang (@journorosa) November 10, 2019
“You people... love our way of life, love our milk and honey. At least you could pay a couple of bucks for poppies or something like that. These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada.”
Ron MacLean nodded and gave a thumbs up. pic.twitter.com/OXnIwV1n9T
In his rant, Cherry talks about "You people" - new immigrants - who he said aren't wearing poppies like old stock Canadians.
He carried on that "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".
He finished with "These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price." before playing his annual Remembrance Day video montage.
In the recent past he has called out what he views as left wing "pinkos", he has denied climate change calling people who believe in it "cuckaloos", and has advocated for more fighting in hockey at a time when the players themselves have organized around changing the game.
Depending on your politics you might not agree with his takes on all of those things above. But it's fair to say that management at Rogers Communications (who currently has the rights to broadcast HNIC - and employs Cherry), has been banking on the fact that he's not offending everyone with them.
However I would hope that most of us who are not members of the alt-right would agree that what he said last night crosses a line.
If my grandfather were alive he might tell you himself that it was grossly disrespectful for an out-of-touch man who never served in the armed forces to bash immigrants on his behalf while most of the country watched. Veterans like my Grandpa Joe weren't only fighting for our freedoms, but for everyone's.
Is Rogers concerned that - after many controversies - finally taking Cherry off the air would result in less people watching the game? Is it a financial concern they have?
Or are they simply dedicated to protecting a hockey commentator's right to free speech, to rant on whichever subjects he pleases?
Who knows. But Cherry's odious comments sparked me to donate $100 to the Legion, on behalf of new immigrants who don't wear a poppy for perfectly good reasons.
Perhaps instead of divisive scolding we could work to better educate everyone on the meaning of the poppy campaign and why "we people" choose to wear it.