Hull–Aylmer MP Greg Fergus is calling on 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.
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.
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.”
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
Cherry has yet to issue any further public comment, but 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.
The statement said the network had also spoken to Cherry about his remarks.
“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.
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 sold every year, starting on the last Friday in October until Remembrance Day on Nov. 11 by The Royal Canadian Legion. The money raised goes to support of veterans and their families.