Poppygate: You have no frame of reference here, Donny!

By: Sean O’Donnell

These blog posts are meant to provide educational content and are not to be taken as legal advice.


This Remembrance Day had a moment many Canadians will never forget. On Monday November 11, 2019, Sportsnet fired Don Cherry from the well-known “Coach’s Corner” segment broadcasted on “Hockey Night in Canada”.

Cherry’s remarks arguably singled out Canadian immigrants and visible minorities for failing to wear poppies, during the intermission between the Leafs v. Flyers game, stating:

“You people love…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…These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price.”

Cherry, however, denies he was singling out visible minorities:

“I did not say minorities, I did not say immigrants. If you watch Coach’s Corner, I did not say that. I said ‘everybody.’ And I said ‘you people’”.

Despite Cherry’s denial of any racism/xenophobia, Canadians have overwhelmingly condemned his comments as divisive, discriminatory, and unacceptable in Canada’s diverse and inclusive society.

I am not a visible minority but I am an immigrant to Canada; in fact, I am now a Canadian citizen. Just because one does not wear a poppy does not mean that one does not appreciate the sacrifices that were made during armed conflict.

However, from an employment law perspective, it got me thinking, did Sportsnet have “cause” to fire him? Stay tuned for more thoughts on that.

Until then, adios Donny!