EDITORIAL – Don Cherry was right about one thing in his poppy rant

(Image: Mel Rothenburger)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

THERE WAS ANOTHER HUGE TURNOUT for the annual Remembrance Day ceremonies at Riverside Park on Monday as we joined Canadians across the country in honouring those who protected us and continue to protect us in war.

The impressive crowd was evidence we haven’t forgotten the sacrifices of our veterans despite the passage of time. How is it, then, that the poppy — the symbol of remembrance — keeps getting mired in controversy?

This year, it came from an unexpected source. Don Cherry lost his Sportsnet Coach’s Corner job yesterday for suggesting immigrants — “you people,” in his words — don’t wear poppies as much as they should.

It’s a sad thing to see this Canadian icon — for nobody can question Don Cherry’s patriotism — banished from the airwaves for tactless comments when he could have made it into a positive thing.

If he wanted to encourage the wearing of the poppy, why not point out that the poppy is a tradition in very few countries around the world but, in Canada, it’s important.

Why pick on new Canadians at all — the issue isn’t specific to any demographic.

I do agree with Cherry that, in general, not enough of us wear poppies. Sales numbers say otherwise but wearing the poppy doesn’t seem as important to people as it used to be. That’s just a personal, totally unscientific, observation and it has nothing to do with immigration.

Showing up at ceremonies is commendable but wearing the poppy is also important.

Don Cherry was wrong in the way he expressed and directed his concern, but he need not have been fired if only he’d apologized. He had an opportunity to express the importance of the poppy as a unifying symbol, and he blew it.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He writes five commentaries a week for CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (7956 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

4 Comments on EDITORIAL – Don Cherry was right about one thing in his poppy rant

  1. Sean: You have wrote something very true which has been sadly missing from the narrative about poppies etcetera…the ravages of wars and the perspectives of wars. Can someone, perhaps well intentioned or perhaps ill-informed be not the saviour but the intruder and aggressor? In many Middle East conflicts for example, that seem often the case.

  2. After all is said and done … I am left thinking that maybe it was time for a change anyway.

    Although we have all appreciated Dons hockey knowledge and wit in imparting hockey wisdom, there comes a time when we just gotta realise that hes getting on in years, he’s not going to live forever, and there’s nothing wrong with seeing this as the doorway to the inevitable changing of the guard.

    Theres a lot of good hockey coach voices in Canada, that could take up the coaches corner type of job, albeit they might want to change the name of the segment.

    Brian Burk’s name has popped up … hmmm … interesting idea.

  3. Sean McGuinness // November 12, 2019 at 7:19 AM // Reply

    It’s not the first time Don Cherry said something wrong. The fact that he didn’t apologise may have contributed to his firing, but it’s good to see that tv personalities in this country must live up to certain standards.

    Remembrance Day is about paying tribute to our fallen soldiers but it is also a time to reflect on the ravages of war. Many immigrants understand this only too well.

  4. It seemed that Don Cherry used live ammunition instead of firing blanks……

    The importance of Remembrance Day, sacrifice and the wearing of a poppy should become part of the curriculum in what people are taught if they desire to become Canadian citizens.

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