Don Cherry addresses firing: 'I speak the truth and I walk the walk'

Arun Srinivasan

Sportsnet dismissed hockey commentator Don Cherry after anti-immigrant comments during Saturday’s broadcast.

Cherry sneered at Toronto and its surrounding communities for not purchasing poppies ahead of Remembrance Day, snarling at “you people” in an unprompted, unprovoked rant on Coach’s Corner.

The 85-year-old spoke to the Toronto Sun’s Joe Warmington, where he was fiercely unapologetic about his comments.

“I have just learned I’ve been fired by Sportsnet for comments made on Coach’s Corner Nov. 9,” Cherry said. “No problem.

“I know what I said and I meant it. Everybody in Canada should wear a poppy to honour our fallen soldiers.”

Cherry has been a national institution for decades, hosting Coach’s Corner alongside Ron MacLean since 1986. He made his pro-military stance clear throughout the interview with Warmington, while refusing to address immigrants that were disturbed by his rant.

Don Cherry remains unapologetic after being dismissed by Sportsnet for his anti-immigrant comments. (Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

“I speak the truth and I walk the walk,” Cherry said. “I have visited the bases of the troops, been to Afghanistan with our brave soldiers at Christmas, been to cemeteries of our fallen around the world and honoured our fallen troops on Coach’s Corner.”

Sportsnet released a statement Sunday, saying the network had spoke to Cherry about his remarks. The network released another ineffectual statement on Monday upon Cherry's dismissal. 

Cherry believed that being a decent human being that avoided bigotry on the air somehow equated to censorship.

“To keep my job, I cannot be turned into a tamed robot,” Cherry said.

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The broadcaster did leave a message for his fans, some of whom are apparently outraged that bigotry no longer is acceptable by a major broadcasting partner.

“I want to thank everyone who has watched Coach’s Corner over the last 35 years,” Cherry said.

“Remember to wear your poppy to honour our fallen soldiers … Thumbs up.”

More to come.

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