Hockey Night commentator Don Cherry is facing backlash after he made comments about immigrants not wearing poppies.
Cherry, 85, seemingly singled out new immigrants in Toronto and Mississauga, Ont., where he lives, for not honouring Canada’s veterans and dead soldiers during his weekly Coach’s Corner segment on Hockey Night in Canada.
“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 National Hockey League said in a statement that Cherry’s remarks were “offensive and contrary to the values we believe in.”
Mississauga Mayor 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 implored Cherry to come to Old City Hall on Remembrance Day to “see thousands of Canadians of all ages, nationalities, faiths and backgrounds” who honour 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.”
Outrage was building online on Sunday with many on Twitter calling for Cherry to be fired.
Yet hundreds of social media users supported Cherry’s comments. Some said they wanted more people to wear poppies, while others pointed fingers at immigrants.
Sportsnet apologized Sunday for Cherry’s televised rant. “Don’s discriminatory comments are offensive and they do not represent our values and what we stand for as a network,” Sportsnet President Bart Yabsley said in a statement earlier Sunday. “We have spoken with Don about the severity of this issue and we sincerely apologize for these divisive remarks.”