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Veterans: 10 Nov 2019
Ron MacLean says he's figuring out how to "make amends" for comments about immigrants made by his Coach's Corner co-host Don Cherry on Saturday night.
Sportsnet says sorry for Don Cherry’s ‘discriminatory’ and ‘offensive’ comments on Coach’s Corner
"We're in the process of sorting out how to make amends," MacLean told the Star when reached by phone Sunday.
"I'll leave it at that. I'm trying to sort out what I'm going to do."
MacLean said he wasn't going to talk to the media until a decision had been made and that he was working with Sportsnet, Rogers and CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, which air the Coach's Corner segment.
The 85-year-old Cherry said Saturday on his weekly segment that he's seeing fewer people wearing poppies to honour fallen Canadian soldiers — and he singled 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."
MacLean's comments came after Sportsnet president Bart Yabsley apologized in a statement sent out Sunday morning.
"Don's discriminatory comments are offensive and they do not represent our values and what we stand for as a network," Yabsley said. "We have spoken with Don about the severity of this issue and we sincerely apologize for these divisive remarks."
The show is still broadcast on CBC in a sub-licensing 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.
"As Rogers Sportsnet is the national rights holder for NHL Hockey in Canada, CBC has no purview over any editorial content (choice of commentators or what they say) on Hockey Night in Canada," CBC spokesperson Chuck Thompson said in a statement.
The NHL also called Cherry's comments "offensive."
"Hockey is at its best when it brings people together," the league said in a statement. "The comments made last night were offensive and contrary to the values we believe in."
Cherry made his comments on Coach's Corner 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 went to battle in the First World War.
On Twitter, people called for Cherry's firing and some criticized MacLean for not speaking out during the segment.
"Cherry's remarks were ignorant and prejudiced, and at this point in our history can't go without comment," tweeted former Ontario premier Bob Rae.
Brampton regional councillor Gurpreet Singh Dhillon was also critical of Cherry.
"I'm done trying to explain to people like @CoachsCornerDC that yes we too are Canadian, and that "us people" also sacrificed for the same freedom for all, side by side with other brave soldiers, even though we ourselves weren't afforded the same opportunities and freedoms," Dhillon tweeted Saturday night.
"I'm not asking for him to be fired," said Dhillon, when reached by phone Sunday. "No one is questioning his patriotism or his support for our troops."
"But I think what this does, is it can open a door for a conversation that can be had between himself and some of the people he's offended," said Dhillon. "I think he's made, over the course of the last number of years, some insensitive comments towards immigrants, Indigenous people. He's made homophobic comments as well. I think it could lead to a conversation, a discussion and hopefully something positive can come out of it."
There's no indication that this year's poppy campaign is doing better or worse than any other year.
Legions run their own campaigns, distributing the red and white donation boxes filled with poppies to retailers on the last Friday of October. The boxes won't be collected until Tuesday, at the earliest, and it will take another one or two weeks to determine the total donations, said Mary Keates, president of legion branch 344, Queen's Own Rifles, on Lake Shore Blvd. W.
"The public have been very supportive and kind to our veterans," she said, noting it was an emotional time for her branch because they recently lost a veteran. Alfred Hibbs, with the Sherbrooke Fusilier armoured regiment in the Second World War, died a week ago.
"It's probably been a very good campaign," Keates said. "Personally, people have been wonderful. They're very supportive. We don't have any complaints right now."
On Sunday, a spokesperson with the legion's national headquarters in Ottawa confirmed the campaign was going well.
Patty Winsa is a Toronto-based data reporter. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Patty Winsa Toronto Star/The Record/Twitter/AA
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