Don Cherry’s firing from Hockey Night in Canada for his rant about immigrants wearing Remembrance Day poppies has drawn the ire of thousands of his fans.
Nearly 100,000 people as of noon on Tuesday had signed an online petition to bring the veteran sportscaster back.
“Don Cherry is a Canadian icon and a symbol of the working class,” said Western Standard, an Alberta-based online magazine, as it launched the petition on 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 also takes aim at Sportsnet and CBC for giving into “a mob of Liberals and Twitter activists.”
During the Coach’s Corner segment last Saturday, Cherry said immigrants don’t wear poppies and don’t support veterans, referring to newcomers as “you people.”
A number of organizations, including the Canadian Legion and Hockey Night in Canada sponsor Budweiser, were quick to condemn his comments. Co-host Ron MacLean apologized for staying silent and at one point flashing a thumbs-up during 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 about both the rant and the dismissal because of it. The regulatory organization said it does not oversee matters related to firings.
Elsewhere, online betting sites are taking wagers for Cherry’s replacement, with Brian Burke, the former Vancouver Canucks general manager who brought Henrik and Daniel Sedin to the team, emerging as a favourite.
– with a file from The Canadian Press