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

ARTS AROUND: Enjoy Celtic song, poetry and storytelling in Port Alberni

Celtic Chaos returns to Capitol Theatre in March

BUSINESS BEAT: Long-awaited second craft brewery opens in Port Alberni

New year brings new business to central Island community

Shipyard upgrade on Port Alberni’s waterfront means MV Frances Barkley retrofit happens at home

Canadian Maritime Engineering expands equipment to accept larger vessels

BUDGET 2020: City of Port Alberni department heads asked to justify costs

Faulty firefighter breathing gear, ballooning Uptown costs, train marketing all questioned

VIDEO: Trudeau insists Iran respect families’ wishes when it comes to burials

All 176 people on board the Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 were killed

Advocates call hospital parking fees a ‘shakedown’ after learning most Island tickets are waived

Victoria General and Royal Jubilee hospitals among the most ticketed on the Island

Dog reunited with Tofino owner, months after being taken from beach

Shannon Boothman ‘ecstatic’ at pet’s return after a tip leads to social media search

B.C.’s first ride-hailing app to launch in Tofino, Whistler in February

The Whistle! app will be available in Tofino on Feb.1 and in Whistler Feb. 6.

Councillor resigns in Revelstoke after colleagues approved 67% raise

Council approved a 134 per cent raise for the mayor of Revelstoke

Rolled-over dairy truck in Abbotsford lost 40,000 litres of milk

Truck removed Sunday, Jan. 19, with specialized equipment to upright vehicle

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. premier talks forestry, service needs with handful of northern mayors in Prince George

Prince George meeting completes premier’s tour of Kitimat, Terrace, Fort St. James and Quesnel

B.C. asks health-care staff to be ‘vigilant’ when screening for coronavirus

This comes after U.S. health officials confirmed a case of the virus in Washington State

Most Read