“Downtown Toronto, forget it.
Downtown Toronto, nobody wears the poppy…
You people that come here, whatever it is, you love our way of life, love our milk and honey.
At least you could pay a couple of bucks for poppies or something like that.
These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada.
These guys paid the biggest price.”
That’s not poetry, but vintage Coach’s Corner stuff on Hockey Night in Canada: another politically incorrect, non-hockey-related rant from 85-year-old Canadian icon Don “Grapes” Cherry.
This time it exploded like a bomb and ended his career.
He might have salvaged his job, amidst the outrage that followed his outburst, had he issued a mea culpa. Something, perhaps, along these lines:
"I have always acknowledged that I come from a place of privilege, but I now need to acknowledge that that comes with a massive blind spot.
Canadians who come from different parts of the world, whether they’re first generation or fifth generation, continue to face intolerance and marginalization.
We have much more to do and I am not afraid of standing up in front of the world and saying, you know, Canada’s a pretty great country.
Canada is the best country in the world, but we have a lot more work to do, all of us, and that is something that I will continue to pledge every single day I have to doing.”
But those words didn’t come out of Don Cherry’s mouth. They spewed forth instead from a desperate Justin Trudeau earlier this fall after he got busted for dressing up repeatedly in blackface.
That phoney-baloney apology did the trick for Trudeau, whose government, incidentally, has been battling Canadian military veterans in court “because they're asking for more than we are able to give right now”. Canadians – well, Torontonians at least – ignored his transgressions, and he was re-elected as Prime Minister of Canada, pushed over the top by a last-minute endorsement from BFF Barack Obama (America’s first black president was strangely unfazed by Trudeau’s racist behaviour).
Obama, like Trudeau a chief apostle in the church of climate change, just plunked down $15 million for a posh spread on Martha’s Vineyard, out-carbon-footprinting even Al Gore and David Suzuki, the greatest climate apostles of all. It’s an odd choice of real estate, given its location mere steps from the Atlantic Ocean, a body of water forecast by Obama and his baying band of climate prophets to rise up and drown the entire Eastern Seaboard, transforming his investment into a watery plot in Martha’s Graveyard.
The fact that Obama is firmly in Trudeau’s corner squares perfectly with Climate Change Rule No. 1: “Hypocrites of a feather flock together.”
As for Don Cherry, who boldly stood up for military veterans and refused to apologize for doing so? He was fired. On Remembrance Day, to boot.
His use of “You people” was held high by the braying media hordes as smoking-gun evidence of raging anti-immigrant racist xenophobia. That he stood by his remarks rather than blathering on about “blind spots” and “all of us having more work to do” was the final straw – off came his head.
This, in a nutshell, is the current state of Canadian woke-ness: A man who openly engages in racist behaviour, a man who refuses to supply proper pensions to wounded Canadian military veterans is elected Prime Minister of Canada.
But a Canadian icon, a man with nary a racist bone in his body, a man who stands up proudly for those same veterans has his reputation shredded and loses the job he held for 38 years. After speaking up for veterans who fought and died to defend our free speech Don Cherry got fired for exercising free speech. There is no darker irony.
Cherry is about as anti-immigrant as Albertans are pro-Trudeau. Don’t take my word for it – listen to famed defenceman Bobby Orr. “I know Grapes better than anybody,” Orr said yesterday. “He’s not a bigot and he’s not a racist. This guy is the most generous caring guy that I know. What they’ve done to him up there is disgraceful, it really is.”
Cherry didn’t deliver his defence of the poppy in the most artful manner, as he himself subsequently admitted: “I should have said everybody. If I had to do it over again, I would have said everybody.”
But that’s simply how the old curmudgeon speaks. Four years ago, after Corporal Nathan Cirillo was killed by a gunshot to the back at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, and after Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was killed by a homicidal driver in Montreal, Cherry used Coach’s Corner to offer an emotional plea to Canadians to support our military:
“The war is over, we forget about it now,” he said then, choking back tears. “All you people out there [showing your support this week] that’s terrific. If you think anything of it, you’ll do what you should do.”
Cherry has our veterans’ backs, one hundred percent. But Ron MacLean, his long-time sidekick on Hockey Night In Canada, certainly didn’t have his.
Faced with losing his job for giving an on-air thumbs-up to the poppy remarks, MacLean chose to cravenly apologize rather than stand by his old friend and colleague.
An acquaintance on Facebook summed it up nicely:
“The problem with Canada is not that we're a nation of Don Cherrys – we're not. It's that we're a nation of Ron MacLeans."