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

Cullen announces bid for provincial NDP nomination for Stikine riding

Current MLA Donaldson not seeking re-election

Kids finally back to school and masked-up

Two days of orientation to kick-up the school year

Northern Health records 1st fatality due to COVID-19

Six people died from the novel coronavirus on the weekend, health officials confirm

Police look for vehicle, male driver after incident involving girl, 11

The driver was described as an older Caucasian male with white hair, no glasses, and no facial hair

Big Pig goes virtual this year

The otherwise three-day event will be a month-long affair

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

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

B.C.’s 1st mental health and addictions minister won’t be seeking re-election

MLA Judy Darcy is the fifth cabinet minister not intending to run in the next election

Vancouver’s shuttered aquarium searching for financial solution amid pandemic

The aquarium needs about $1 million a month to cover its costs

B.C., Alberta sending nearly 300 fire personnel by Friday to help battle wildfires in Oregon

Some 230 firefighters, most from British Columbia but including a number from Alberta, will be deployed Friday

Most Read