Sportsnet cuts ties with Don Cherry over poppy rant

Don Cherry fired over rant

UPDATE: 12:15 p.m.

Sportsnet has cut ties with "Hockey Night in Canada" broadcaster Don Cherry.

Sportsnet says in a statement it is the right time for Cherry to immediately step down.

Sportsnet apologized yesterday for Cherry's comments on "Coach's Corner" on Saturday about his belief that new immigrants don't wear poppies, and in turn, don't support veterans.

The outburst sparked a swift backlash from the public, politicians and the National Hockey League.

Cherry, 85, singled out new immigrants in Toronto and Mississauga, Ont., where he lives, for not honouring Canada's veterans and dead soldiers.

Cherry did not respond to phone calls seeking comment and has not publicly apologized. Segment co-host Ron MacLean apologized Sunday evening.

ORIGINAL: 11:50 a.m.

The Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council has been so overloaded with complaints about hockey commentator Don Cherry's rant over the weekend that it hit the limit of the organization's technical processing capacity.

Sportsnet apologized Sunday for Cherry's comments on "Coach's Corner" about his belief that new immigrants don't wear poppies, and in turn, don't support veterans. The outburst sparked a swift backlash from the public, politicians and the National Hockey League.

"The CBSC has received a large number of very similar complaints concerning Coach’s Corner broadcast on CBC (Sportsnet) on November 9, 2019, exceeding the CBSC’s technical processing capacities," the CBSC said on its website.

"Accordingly, while the CBSC will be dealing with this broadcast under its normal process, it is not able to accept any further complaints."

The CBSC is a self-regulatory organization created by Canada’s private broadcasters to deal with complaints from viewers or listeners about programs they have seen or heard broadcast on a participating station.

Coach's Corner is a popular segment on "Hockey Night in Canada," which is broadcast on CBC in a sub-licensing deal with Rogers Media, which owns Sportsnet.

Cherry, 85, singled out new immigrants in Toronto and Mississauga, Ont., where he lives, for not honouring Canada's veterans and dead soldiers.

"You people ... 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 Saturday night. "These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price."

Cherry did not respond to phone calls seeking comment and has not publicly apologized. Segment co-host Ron MacLean apologized Sunday evening.

"Don Cherry made remarks which were hurtful, discriminatory, which were flat out wrong ... I owe you an apology, too. I sat there, did not catch it, did not respond," MacLean said. "Last night was a really great lesson to Don and me. We were wrong, and I sincerely apologize. I wanted to thank you for calling me and Don on that last night."

Sportsnet president Bart Yabsley provided a statement on Sunday morning.

"Don's discriminatory comments are offensive and they do not represent our values and what we stand for as a network," he said. "We have spoken with Don about the severity of this issue and we sincerely apologize for these divisive remarks."

It wasn't clear if discipline might be forthcoming ahead of the next scheduled "Coach's Corner" segment on Saturday.

A message left with a Rogers Media spokesperson requesting an interview with Yabsley and/or Rogers Media president Jordan Banks was not immediately returned.

Banks took on the role two months ago. Yabsley, who was named Sportsnet president last March, was asked about Cherry's future in a sitdown interview with The Canadian Press in late September.

"He's a very smart broadcaster,'' Yabsley said at the time. "Make no mistake. He knows what he's saying. And as far as Ron goes, if there's a more talented broadcaster in the country, I don't know who it is. He's absolutely fabulous.''


Canadians to mark Remembrance Day this morning

Paying tribute to lives lost

Canadians will gather at cenotaphs and monuments across the country this morning to remember and honour those who took up arms — and in some cases paid the ultimate price — to defend this country and its way of life.

Thousands are expected to gather at the National War Memorial in Ottawa to mark the national Remembrance Day ceremony, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Gov. Gen. Julie Payette will be among those laying wreaths in memory of those who died serving Canada.

"They fought for the ideals of peace and to defend our liberties," Payette said in a video message.

"Many were wounded in their body and in their soul. Too many paid the ultimate price. We owe them an immense debt of gratitude. We must never forget their sacrifice and the terrible costs of war. Let us never take freedom for granted and stand up for equality and tolerance."

Trudeau echoed those sentiments in a separate statement as he credited those who served in uniform with having built peace, defended democracy and enabled countless people to live in freedom in Canada and around the world.

"Today, we pay tribute to our veterans, to those who have been injured in the line of duty, and to all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice," he said. "They stood for liberty, and sacrificed their future for the future of others. Their selflessness and courage continue to inspire Canadians who serve today.

Also present for this morning's national ceremony will be this year's Silver Cross Mother, Reine Samson Dawe, whose youngest son, Capt. Matthew Dawe, was killed in Afghanistan in 2007 alongside five other Canadian soldiers and an Afghan interpreter.

Samson Dawe will lay a wreath on behalf of all Canadian mothers who have lost children to war.

This year's Remembrance Day ceremony follows a major ceremony in France earlier this year marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day, when thousands of Canadian stormed the beaches of Normandy with their British and American allies to fight Nazi Germany.

It also comes exactly 101 years to the day after the end of the First World War.

Parti Quebecois mulls name change after 2018 defeat

Parti Quebecois changes?

The Parti Quebecois has reopened the debate over changing its name, but few of its members seem ready to take such a drastic step as the party seeks to recover from a 2018 election defeat.

Party president Dieudonne Ella Oyono has indicated that a name change is on the table as the party mulls its next steps in the coming months.

The party is meeting in Trois-Rivieres over the weekend as it seeks to rebuild after a disastrous provincial election last year that saw the party win only 10 of the legislature's 125 seats.

The president of the party's youth wing has indicated that the name could change if members ask for it, but interim leader Pascal Berube has indicated that it isn't a priority and he prefers leaving the name as is.

Harold LeBel, a legislature member for Rimouski, says he's strongly opposed to dropping the Parti Quebecois name.

LeBel says the name is part of Quebec's history and people associate it with the hope for sovereignty.


Sportsnet apologizes for Don Cherry's anti-immigrant comments

Cherry's 'offensive' remarks

Sportsnet has apologized for hockey commentator Don Cherry's remarks about what he believes are new immigrants not wearing poppies ahead of Remembrance Day.

"Don's discriminatory comments are offensive and they do not represent our values and what we stand for as a network," Sportsnet President Bart Yabsley said in a statement Sunday.

"We have spoken with Don about the severity of this issue and we sincerely apologize for these divisive remarks."

Cherry seemingly singled out new immigrants in Toronto and Mississauga, Ont., where he lives, for not honouring Canada's veterans and dead soldiers.

"You people ... 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.

"These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price."

Cherry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mississauga, Ont., Mayor Bonnie Crombie was quick to respond and called his comments "despicable."

"We're proud of diverse cultural heritage and we'll always stand up for it," she said on Twitter. "New immigrants enrich our country for the better. We're all Canadians and wear our poppies proudly."

Former Liberal MP and previous Ontario Premier Bob Rae also weighed in.

"Cherry's remarks were ignorant and prejudiced, and at this point in our history can't go without comment."

Outrage was building online on Sunday with many on Twitter calling for Cherry to be fired.

Rumours circulated about the possibility of Cherry being cut from Coach's Corner earlier this year after a Toronto Sun columnist wrote that his return to the show had not been confirmed by the summer.

Cherry said at the time that he was not retiring from the decades-old show yet.

Hockey Night in Canada used to be a long-time CBC Saturday night staple. The show and its games moved to Sportsnet when Rogers landed a 12-year, $5.2 billion national broadcast rights deal with the NHL that began in 2014.

The show is still broadcast on CBC in a sub-licensing deal with Rogers Media, which owns Sportsnet. But the show is run by Sportsnet and filmed in its studio in the CBC building in Toronto.

"As Rogers Media is the national rights holder for NHL Hockey in Canada, CBC has no purview over any editorial (choice of commentators or what they say) with respect to Hockey Night in Canada," CBC spokesman Chuck Thompson said in an email.

Kenney announces 'Fair Deal Panel' for Alberta

Kenney: 'Fair Deal Panel'

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced the creation of a panel that will examine ways to make his province more independent of Ottawa in a speech to the conservative Manning Centre on Saturday in which he rejected separatist arguments.

Kenney's "Fair Deal Panel," which will include former Reform Party leader Preston Manning, will consult with Albertans on ideas such as establishing a provincial revenue agency, withdrawing from the Canada Pension Plan in favour of a new provincial agency and establishing a formalized provincial constitution.

The point of the panel, Kenney explained, is to secure a fair deal for Alberta and advance Alberta's economic interests, such as the construction of energy pipelines.

Kenney noted that several of the ideas are borrowed from Quebec, such as collecting taxes and seeking provincial representation in treaty negotiations that affect Alberta's interests.

He said that none of the ideas would be implemented without Albertans endorsing them in a referendum.

Kenney told the audience that separating from Canada would landlock Alberta and not make it any easier to get a pipeline built to a coast, but that he sees the fear in Albertans eyes about their economic futures.

"It's expressed most devastatingly in an increase in the rate of Albertans who have taken their own lives over the past five years. The per capita rate of suicide in Alberta is 50 per cent higher than it is in Ontario," Kenney said in his speech in Red Deer, adding that economic woes are also contributing to a wave of rural crime and opiod addiction.

"So this literally for many people is a life-and-death question."

Other members of the panel will include Stephen Lougheed, a businessman and son of former premier Peter Lougheed, as well as University of Alberta law professor Moin Yahya, First Nations leader Jason Goodstriker, Canada West Foundation chair Oryssia Lennie, and some members of Kenney's United Conservative Party caucus.

Kenney's speech was the keynote address at the conference, where three of four panels discussed the federal election result and what it meant for Alberta and the West.

In the days that followed the Oct. 21 vote, a simmering separatist movement in Alberta gained momentum under the "Wexit" umbrella, a name seemingly created to mimic the Brexit movement aimed at separating Britain from the European Union.

The group's founder, Peter Downing, earlier this week filed paperwork with Elections Canada to form a federal Wexit Alberta party that could, in his words, do for Western Canada what the Bloc Quebecois does for Quebec.

Kenney said the status quo isn't acceptable, but that he and most Albertans don't want to give up on Canada forever.

"So what is the alternative?" Kenney asked. "Bold action."

The panel will conduct public consultations between Nov. 16 and Jan. 30. It will complete its report to government by March 31.

Opposition Leader Rachel Notley responded in a statement that Kenney was "intentionally stoking the fires of western alienation in order to advance his own political objectives."

The NDP leader also noted that Kenney never mentioned withdrawing from the Canada Pension Plan during the provincial election last April.

"Alberta is part of Canada, and Jason Kenney needs to accept that," Notley said. "This premier needs to cut the theatrics and get back to the job of getting Albertans back to work."

Three dead, including toddler, after fire in Manitoba mobile home

Three dead in fire

Two adults and a toddler are dead following a mobile home fire near a small Manitoba community.

RCMP say they and firefighters responded to the blaze early Friday night near Plumas, Manitoba, about 175 kilometres west of Winnipeg.

Police say once the fire was extinguished, officers and fire personnel entered the home found the bodies of a 36-year-old man, a 28-year-old woman, and a two-year-old girl.

They say all three lived in the home.

Police say four other children who also lived there were found safe at a different location.

An autopsy has been scheduled and the Office of the Fire Commissioner is assisting with the investigation.

Unattended cigarette may be cause of Montreal fatal fire

Cigarette behind deadly fire

Police say an unattended cigarette might be what sparked a fire in a Montreal apartment unit that has left a woman and her eight-year-old daughter dead.

The fire broke out about 11 p.m. Friday in an apartment in a 51-unit building in Lachine, in western Montreal.

Montreal police say the deaths of the mother, 40, and her daughter were pronounced in hospital.

Three other minors — a five-year-old girl and two boys, 13, were taken to hospital.

All five people are members of the same family and police say the five-year-old girl remains in critical condition today.

Const. Jean-Pierre Brabant says the twin boys jumped from a second-storey back balcony to evade the flames, suffering minor injuries.

Brabant says investigators are working with a hypothesis that a forgotten cigarette sparked the fire.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Nov. 9, 2019.

Metis veterans get recognition ahead of Remembrance Day

Metis veterans recognized

A fiddle played the sombre strains of the Last Post and Amazing Grace during a special ceremony Friday to remember the contributions of Canada's Metis people during the Second World War as well as the discrimination that greeted them upon their return home.

The ceremony followed a formal apology and a promise of compensation from the federal government in September that acknowledged Metis veterans were not allowed to receive the same benefits and reintegration support as other Canadians after the war.

The issue remained a sore point for the Metis community for decades, particularly after the government issued an apology and compensation to First Nations' veterans for similar discrimination in 2002.

Speaking to the small gathering of veterans, family members and supporters who gathered around the National Indigenous War Memorial for Friday's ceremony, David Chartrand of the Metis National Council thanked the Liberal government for the apology and compensation.

"But one of the things that I press upon is a lot of them (Metis veterans) have now passed on, they did not see this day of remembrance, of honour and respect that this country brought to them, which should have been done 75 years ago."

The Liberal government first indicated in March that it planned to make amends to Canada's Metis veterans when it set aside $30 million in the federal budget to provide compensation to Metis veterans treated unfairly, and to commemorate their contributions.

Two veterans — George Ricard and Guy Lafreniere, both 94 — braved sub-zero temperatures to attend the ceremony in Ottawa Friday with their families before they were presented with $20,000 cheques as part of the agreement between the government and Metis nation.

"He was never recognized," Jim Ricard said of his father, George, who enlisted as a 17-year-old and repaired Sunderland bombers in Ireland during the war before spending two years helping rebuild Dusseldorf, Germany. "I think it's fantastic that they finally did something."

Ricard and Lafreniere are the 12th and 13th veterans to have been compensated by the government, according to the Metis National Council.

The organization could not say how many Metis veterans are still alive and eligible for such payments. The families of veterans who have died within the last three years can also receive compensation.

About $20 million of the budget 2019 will go into a legacy fund to support several commemorative initiatives, including the expected building of a monument and the provision of bursaries or grants for Metis students.

Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O'Regan, who previously served as veterans affairs minister and attended Friday's ceremony, said while compensation "is nice, it really is about recognition — and an apology is a very sincere, most sincere form of recognition.

"It's an acknowledgment that recognition was not given when it should have been. But that it is given now with some shame, with a great deal of respect, and it is in that spirit that we are here today."

Scientists breathe easier as ocean heat wave weakens

Marine heat wave weakens

Scientists say a marine heat wave that blanketed a large area of the west coast has weakened, but the potential disruption to ocean life isn't over yet.

Nate Mantua of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the "good news" is that the area of exceptionally warm water is substantially smaller now than it was earlier this year.

And while the area about 1,500 kilometres offshore between Hawaii and Alaska is still seeing high temperatures by historical standards, it is "simply not nearly as large as it was and it is no longer strong in areas near the west coast," he said.

Scientists have been watching a marine heat wave that developed around June this year and resembled a phenomenon that was nicknamed 'The Blob,' which disrupted ocean life between 2014 and 2016.

The heat wave, which resembles a wedge this time, stretched from south of Vancouver Island to Baja, Calif., and offshore towards Hawaii. It raised temperatures by up to 4 C.

Mantua said "many energetic storms and unusually strong winds from the north off the west coast" have cooled surface waters back to near normal temperatures for much of the region.

"On the other hand, the offshore warming is still in place, and by historical standards, it is still a large marine heat wave," he said in an email.

The latest climate model forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center suggest that the offshore warming will gradually weaken over the next seven months, but even by spring will still be warmer than normal, Mantua said.

Prof. Andrew Trites at the University of British Columbia's Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries said the marine heat wave is caused when there is not enough wind to churn and cool the water.

"This past summer winds were very, very light — not strong enough for ocean to be mixed the way it used to be in the past. As a result the ocean didn't cool down the way it was supposed to and it's holding its heat," he said in a phone interview.

"It's not that the ocean got warmer, it's really that the ocean did not get cooler."

As a result, some species of tropical fish that are usually seen in tropical waters were found off the west coast, he said.

"One of the fish that I saw a lot of this summer was the sunfish and presumably they are here in higher numbers because the water here was unusually warm this summer and they can tolerate warm temperatures," Trites said.

Alberta alters rules on oil production to spur more drilling

Alberta pushes more drilling

Alberta's energy minister says the government is adjusting its rules on oil production limits to give producers incentive to drill more conventional wells.

Sonya Savage says, starting immediately, any oil produced from a new well will not be subject to the rules.

Savage says the government expects the change will spur producers to drill hundreds of new wells and that each well will create about 145 jobs.

Due to pipeline bottlenecks, the former NDP government limited the amount companies could produce to prevent a surplus such as the one last year that sharply reduced prices for Alberta oil.

Production from new wells is expected to flow next year and into 2021.

Savage says the expectation is more pipeline capacity and expanded crude-by-rail will handle increased production so as not to have an impact on prices.

O'Leary challenges leadership rules, says Scheer 'can't lead'

O'Leary: Scheer's gotta go

Celebrity businessman and former Conservative leadership contender Kevin O'Leary has an April court date to challenge the constitutionality of campaign finance law.

O'Leary filed a lawsuit against Elections Canada last year over rules that impose a timeline on how long leadership contenders have to pay back their debts, and the fact they can't pay it off themselves. A court date has now been set for Apr. 15, 2020.

Until the law is fixed, he said, he'll never make another leadership run — but does think someone else needs to step up to replace current leader Andrew Scheer after he failed to win a majority government for the Conservatives in last month's vote.

"Andrew just can't lead," O'Leary told The Canadian Press in an interview. "It just doesn't make sense to run him again, the same outcome will occur."

O'Leary said he's whittled down his nearly $500,000 worth of debt to under $160,000. Under the current rules he has to pay it off by next May.

O'Leary dropped out of the 2017 leadership race after dismal internal polling results, and threw his support behind Maxime Bernier, who finished second overall. Bernier later quit the Conservatives to form a splinter party, which failed to win any seats last month.

Scheer won the leadership, O'Leary said, by managing to convince the membership he'd be able to get around this issue of his socially conservative views.

"We thought Scheer could say look, he could handle it and he could communicate it properly and he just didn't," O'Leary said.

O'Leary said the caucus members he has spoken to are angry, and are angling for immediate change. Scheer survived a vote Wednesday night that would have allowed his MPs to kick him out, but the full party membership will get a say in April when he will face a mandatory leadership at the party's convention in Toronto.

O'Leary said he remains a card-carrying member of the Conservative Party, and did cast a ballot for the Conservatives in last month's election.

But he said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cannot remain in office, using the recent example of energy giant Encana choosing to relocate its headquarters to the U.S. as proof the Canadian economy is in danger.

Conservative ideas like the national energy corridor could right the economic ship, O'Leary said, they just need a different captain. Among the names he raised: Peter MacKay, a former cabinet minister who repeatedly insists he's not interested, and Lisa Raitt. She lost her seat in last month's election because of Scheer, O'Leary said.

His refusal to march in gay pride parades means he'll never gain enough support among women in crucial ridings like Raitt's outside Toronto, and without them he can't win, O'Leary said.

While Scheer insists he can hold the personal views he does, and find other ways to champion the rights of Canada's LGBTQ community, O'Leary disagreed.

When you're asked to march, you march, O'Leary said.

"You don't say no, you say yes," he said. "You show respect. That is a must. It is not an option. You have to show respect as a leader. If you can't find that within yourself to do it, you can't lead."

Canada can unite on climate action if partisan politics set aside

Climate fight hurt by politics

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says the fight against climate change can unite this country even as it currently is fuelling talk of Alberta separation.

Pallister is in Ottawa today to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and climate change is a critical part of the conversation.

Trudeau's relationship with many provincial premiers is tense, particularly over his decision to impose a price on pollution in any province without an equivalent system of its own, including Manitoba.

Pallister opposes Trudeau's plan, but not carbon taxes in general and is still hoping the prime minister will allow provinces to create their own plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

He is however trying to set himself up as the middle man who could broker a truce between Trudeau and the more strident premiers like Alberta's Jason Kenney and Saskatchewan's Scott Moe.

He says Trudeau's partisan nature and insistence on carbon taxes done his way created divisions about climate change action during the recent federal election rather than finding ways to unite the country behind this critical issue.

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