Don Cherry waded his way into controversy yet again on Saturday night, using his “Coach’s Corner” segment to take down immigrants during a rant about people who don’t wear poppies for Remembrance Day.
While Cherry received swift criticism for referring to immigrants as “you people,” many were quick to point out that the 85-year-old commentator wasn’t the only one at fault.
Ron MacLean, who co-hosts with Cherry on “Hockey Night in Canada” was called out for being complacent in Cherry’s rant, by sitting there and nodding while Cherry made statements like claiming “nobody” in Toronto and Mississauga, Ont. wears poppies.
Hi @RonMacLeanHTH . While Don Cherry goes on an anti-immigrant rant, you are sitting there - nodding your head. This was a moment to show leadership and moral conviction, but instead you chose to be complicit with your silence. From a Canadian who is an immigrant - do better. https://t.co/SpSc91MNxb— Hasan Hai (@HasanHaiNL) November 10, 2019
On Sunday night, MacLean spoke out, opening his “Hometown Hockey” show with an apology for Cherry’s statements and his own role in it.
“I wanted to address what happened on “Hockey Night in Canada,” he said from Welland, Ont. “Don Cherry made remarks which were hurtful, discriminatory — which were flat-out wrong.”
“I owe you an apology too, that’s the big thing I want to emphasize.”
MacLean then addressed that during Cherry’s rant he “sat there, did not catch it, did not respond.”
Ron MacLean begins Hometown Hockey by addressing the comments Don Cherry made last night and apologizing pic.twitter.com/2QSVOAxfX1— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) November 10, 2019
I want to sincerely apologize to our viewers and Canadians. During last night's broadcast, Don made comments that were hurtful and prejudiced and I wish I had handled myself differently. It was a divisive moment and I am truly upset with myself for allowing it. (1/2)— Ron MacLean (@RonMacLeanHTH) November 10, 2019
I have worked with Don for 30 years, and we both love hockey. But last night, I know we failed you. I see hockey as part of what unites us. I have the honour of travelling across our country to celebrate Canada's game, and our diversity is one of our country's greatest strengths.— Ron MacLean (@RonMacLeanHTH) November 10, 2019
“Last night was a really great lesson to Don and me,” said the 59-year-old broadcaster. “We were wrong and I sincerely apologize and I wanted to thank you for calling me and Don on that last night.”
Following Cherry’s statements, Sportsnet released an apology on Twitter Sunday calling them “discriminatory” and “offensive.” The company emphasized that it doesn’t represent their “values,” which MacLean reiterated in his statement.
“We at Sportsnet have apologized, it certainly doesn’t stand for what Sportsnet or Rogers represents,” MacLean said. “We know diversity is the strength of the country. We’ve seen this in the travels in our show and with ‘Hockey Night in Canada.’”
MacLean also quoted Kathryn Teneese, the chairperson of the Ktunaxa Nation Council in British Columbia in his apology.
″[She] once said in any wrongdoing the real key is recognition and acknowledgement and I wanted to let you know that first, and then you work on the relationship,” said MacLean.
“So that it isn’t divisive, so that something can be a unifying event, Idle No More was a great lesson to all of us,” he said, referencing the ongoing Indigenous movement protesting discriminatory legislation from the federal government.
Cherry has not released an apology himself. The CBC told HuffPost Canada that because Cherry’s show falls under Rogers Sportsnet, they have “no purview over any editorial content (choice of commentators or what they say) on ‘Hockey Night in Canada.’”
With files from Rebecca Zamon