Don Cherry being axed from Hockey Night in Canada for a controversial rant over immigrants and Remembrance Day poppies has drawn the ire of thousands of his fans, according to an online petition gaining substantial steam.
Just shy of 100,000 people had signed a Change.org petition as of noon on Tuesday and their intention is clear: Bring back Don Cherry.
“Don Cherry is a Canadian icon and a symbol of the working class,” Western Standard said in its petition, which was launched Monday.
“He may be politically incorrect, and may not have been as careful as he should have in his remarks, but his offence does not warrant firing,” the petition reads.
The petition also takes aim at Sportsnet and CBC, criticizing the media companies for giving into “a mob of Liberals and Twitter activists.”
During Saturday’s Coach’s Corner segment, Cherry said that immigrants don’t wear poppies and don’t support veterans, while referring to newcomers as “you people.”
A number of organizations, including the Canadian Legion, as well as Hockey Night in Canada sponsors such as Budweiser, were quick to condemn his comments. Co-host Ron MacLean apologized for staying silent – at one point flashing a thumbs-up – after Cherry’s rant.
We know many new Canadians understand and welcome the tradition of the red poppy and will continue to educate all citizens about the significance of this powerful symbol.
— The Royal Canadian Legion (@RoyalCdnLegion) November 11, 2019
The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council was inundated with complaints over Cherry’s comments, it said on its website. The regulatory organization said it also received a large number of complaints about the firing, but noted that it does not oversee those kinds of matters.
“The CBSC has no jurisdiction over the employment or operations matters of its member stations, nor can it require a station to remove an on-air host,” the statement reads.
Sportsnet network president Bart Yabsley announced that Cherry was being removed from his position on Monday.
But as thousands of sports fans are calling for Cherry to be allowed back, others are already placing bets on who will replace him in the popular first-intermission segment. SportsBettingDime.com has listed Brian Burke as the favourite.
– with a file from The Canadian Press