Don Cherry, Canada's most polarizing, flamboyant and opinionated hockey commentator, was fired Monday for calling immigrants "you people" in a television rant Saturday night in which he said new immigrants are not honoring the country's fallen soldiers. Rogers Sportsnet President Bart Yabsley announced the decision following discussions with the 85-year-old broadcaster. "It has been decided it is the right time for him to immediately step down," Yabsley said in a statement, the AP reports. "During the broadcast, he made divisive remarks that do not represent our values or what we stand for." Known for his outlandish suits and shirts, Cherry has provided commentary after the first intermission of Hockey Night in Canada for more than three decades.
Cherry had said that "nobody wears a poppy" in downtown Toronto. The tradition of wearing poppies honors Canada's war dead on Remembrance Day, which was observed Monday. "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 during the broadcast. "These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy." Cherry has not apologized. His longtime co-host, Ron MacLean, did not object during the broadcast, and gave Cherry a thumbs-up. MacLean apologized to viewers Sunday for not speaking up at the time. The Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council said it was so overloaded with complaints about the segment that they exceeded its technical processing capacity. Cherry was voted the seventh-greatest Canadian in a TV project in 2004, finishing ahead of Wayne Gretzky.
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