Coach's Corner faces heat for using platform to promote military stance

Hockey Fans for Peace, a newly created Vancouver-based group, plans on challenging Don Cherry’s provocative pro-war comments on Coach’s Corner, stating that his program is not the place to promote Cherry’s military beliefs (Jack Keating, “Hockey Fan group challenge Cherry’s ‘pro war’ stance,” Postmedia News, 5 January 2011):

Hockey Fans for Peace plans to rally outside the HNIC broadcast of Saturday night’s Vancouver Canucks game against the Detroit Red Wings at Rogers Arena in Vancouver to make the point that hockey fans have the democratic right to speak out against the war in Afghanistan.

Spokesman Kimball Cariou said Wednesday the group is calling on the CBC “to either stop the promotion of militarism during hockey broadcasts, or else to allow one of its members to debate Cherry during an upcoming Coach’s Corner.”

Hockey fan and peace activist Derrick O’Keefe agrees.

“It’s something that’s bothered me for a lot of years that Don Cherry’s Coach’s Corner has been used to really give a one-sided platform to talk about the war only in full support,” said O’Keefe, a member of the group’s Facebook page. “And when Don Cherry makes political comments during the hockey broadcast he’s never challenged.”

He said Cherry is “100 per cent pro-war from everything I’ve heard him say.”

O’Keefe, who is also co-chair of StopWar.ca, said people “can support the soldiers and hope that they come home safely and it doesn’t mean that we support the war.”

“I think he’s giving a very biased perspective and he’s invoking the soldiers as a way of promoting the war,” said O’Keefe.

The CBC appears determined to stand behind Cherry, however.

CBC spokesman Jeff Keay said he doesn’t accept the premise that Cherry is promoting the war in Afghanistan and militarism every week on Coach’s Corner.

“I mean, Don does offer remembrances of soldiers who are killed as well as police officers and firefighters that are casualties,” said Keay. “We really don’t have a problem with that.”

“We hire him for his hockey commentary, but as a commentators he’s entitled to his opinion,” said Keay, who doesn’t foresee allowing someone to counter Cherry’s views on the war in Afghanistan.

“I wouldn’t say that’s a forum for that kind of debate, so I really don’t see that happening.”

Photo by DVIDSHUB

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