Sports broadcaster and Coach’s Corner co-host Ron MacLean takes questions before receiving an honorary doctor of laws degree at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton on Tuesday, November 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

VIDEO: Ron MacLean says he doesn’t believe former co-host Don Cherry is racist

Sportsnet fired Cherry on Nov. 11, two days after controversial on-air comments during ‘Coach’s Corner’

Days after addressing Don Cherry’s dismissal during a ”Hockey Night in Canada” broadcast, sports broadcaster Ron MacLean said that he doesn’t believe his former co-host is racist.

MacLean, the long-time co-host of “Coach’s Corner” with Cherry, was in Edmonton Tuesday to receive an honorary doctor of laws degree at the University of Alberta.

Before receiving the degree, MacLean was asked by a reporter whether he thinks Cherry is racist.

“What I know is that we made the mistake … I mean, no,” he said. “Don, I think, has started to come around … he knows we projected an idea, an attitude or a behaviour on someone. He knows, I feel like in what I’ve listened to, he’s trying now to admit to that.

“If I have one regret, it’s that when I apologized on the Sunday night, I used Don’s name and, if I am sitting at home watching it, that would hurt me. That might have created some resolve in Don not to apologize.”

Sportsnet fired Cherry on Nov. 11, two days after controversial on-air comments during “Coach’s Corner.”

VIDEO: Don Cherry says he was fired, not sorry for ‘Coach’s Corner’ poppy rant

The 85-year-old broadcaster made remarks that many felt were critical of immigrants for not wearing Remembrance Day poppies.

Cherry used the phrase, “You people,” during the segment but later denied that he was singling out visible minorities.

“You people that come here, whatever it is, 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 on the segment. “These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price.”

In Saturday’s address, MacLean said “Coach’s Corner” is no more.

“We are all hurting. I have collapsed 100 times this week, if not more,” he said during the broadcast. “We are all disappointed.”

MacLean said that he has received an email from Cherry since he spoke out Saturday.

“He’s upset, but we’re all raw,” MacLean said Tuesday in Edmonton. “As I said on the TV, I love Don. It doesn’t sound like I would be there for Don, but I am.

“We’re just going through one of the most difficult situations because, as I said, we each made our personal decisions.”

READ MORE: MacLean says “Coach’s Corner is no more”

MacLean said he will carry on with Sportsnet.

“I can’t back down from the difficulty, I was very keen to apologize, I felt very much the need to continue to represent the show,” he said. “We all love hockey, we love Don, we love hockey, we love the bridge-building aspects of our game. We’re caught in a situation — it needed to be addressed.”

In his address to U of A graduates, MacLean used the controversy as a teaching moment.

“My job is to teach you kids — you young women and men — how to stay out of trouble,” he said. “This ought to be good.”

MacLean, who grew up in Red Deer, Alta., said he’s struggled to find words in the past 10 days.

“I’ve looked to certain people to influence my opinions,” he said. “This week, I’ve talked to First Nations chiefs, people of colour, women.

“While you think for yourself … please listen to your friends, please listen to others and it will help to imbue you going forward.”

Other honorary degree recipients during this fall’s convocation ceremonies include minority language rights advocate Claudette Tardif and award-winning poet Alice Major.

READ MORE: NHL commissioner declines to weigh in on Cherry

Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tax penalties of 10 per cent to be applied by City if not paid on time

Prince Rupert Property taxes for certain non-residential properties are due by Sept. 30

Single-engine aircraft crashes near Telkwa

Two occupants of the plane sustained minor injuries and were transported to hospital

Northwest firefighters headed to Oregon to battle wildfires

Over 200 B.C. firefighting personnel will assist in the U.S.

Search concludes over human remains found

Prince Rupert RCMP said search in Moresby Park area has concluded

Nisga’a Nation lifts local state of emergency

No new COVID-19 cases detected since state of emergency was enacted

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C.’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan: Top 5 things you need to know

Jobs training, tax incentives for employers to hire staff and more

March to protect old growth, stop industrial logging coming to B.C. Legislature

Organizers say they want to give frontline communities a bigger say in nearby logging

B.C. releases details of $1.5B economic recovery plan, $660M in business tax incentives

Economic plan includes support for employers, as well as training for workers

‘Not criminally responsible’ hearing slated for man convicted of Abbotsford school stabbing

Gabriel Klein was found guilty in March of killing Letisha Reimer, 13, in 2016

Most Read