Canadian hockey commentator Don Cherry is known for much more than just donning outrageous suits and blasting players and executives born outside Canada on his Coach's Corner CBC intermission show. He's also consistently promoted the Canadian military and criticized political decisions he doesn't like, such as Canada's decision not to join the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Still, Cherry's gone even further afield since joining Twitter (on an account apparently shared with Coach's Corner producer Kathy Broderick, but one that would not seem to undergo a great deal of spellchecking or editing), and he may just have topped himself.
The foreign aid Canada's given to Haiti in the wake of the 2010 earthquake there, which Minister of International Cooperation Julian Fantino said would be frozen last week (except for existing projects). Fantino's comments have come in for heavy criticism given the ongoing conditions in Haiti, but Cherry chimed in Monday with a series of blunt tweets that showed his support for Fantino's decision:
You know , I am one of those guys, like most people in Canada, we like to help the countries all over the world.But sometimes it makes you— Don Cherry (@CoachsCornerCBC) January 7, 2013
wonder. Maybe it’s just me.But Canada gave Haiti 49.5 million dollars last year . Are we nuts? We’ve got a guy dying in Toronto waiting— Don Cherry (@CoachsCornerCBC) January 7, 2013
3 hours for an ambulance.We got people waiting 7, 8 10 hours, if they’re lucky in a waiting room with one doctor for a zillion people.— Don Cherry (@CoachsCornerCBC) January 7, 2013
We nickel and dime our doctors, nurses and veterans plus a million other services. Yet we can send almost 50 million to Haiti.— Don Cherry (@CoachsCornerCBC) January 7, 2013
I’ll tell ya something. The working guy is getting kind of sick of people spending money like that. It’s a good job we got a good guy like— Don Cherry (@CoachsCornerCBC) January 7, 2013
Julian Fantino, with a little common sense, in charge.50 million, I wonder how much have we given them over the years? Lets smarten up.— Don Cherry (@CoachsCornerCBC) January 7, 2013
As the old saying goes, charity begins at home. Am I right or is it just me?— Don Cherry (@CoachsCornerCBC) January 7, 2013
It would be a boring Twitterverse if everyone was strictly restricted to commenting on things directly to do with their job, so Cherry's well within his rights to express his thoughts on aid to Haiti. They aren't that far outside the current debate, either, as most of Cherry's tweets seem to be expressing support for the Canadian government's policies. Still, it seems a little callous to compare lineups in Canadian hospitals to the devastating conditions that still remain in Haiti to this day, something that some Canadian athletes and sports media members have seen firsthand and worked to improve. Cherry will undoubtedly have plenty of people supporting his comments here, but he's likely also going to alienate a lot of Canadians with these comments, far more than he's done with previous Twitter rants against Tim McCarver or the metric system as a vast Communist conspiracy (at least David Menzies approves of that one).
The debate is a pretty sensitive one, but Cherry bulldozed in with the typical bluntness and extreme stances that have become hallmarks of his TV career over the last 30 years. That's not necessarily entirely negative; for one thing, Don Cherry mentioning this has brought the issue far more attention than it received when it was just Fantino talking about it, and having a discussion's never a bad thing. Still, for many Canadians, this is yet another reason to be thankful for the end of the NHL lockout - it means Cherry's probably going to be back to mostly talking about hockey soon, not how much Canada should spend on foreign aid.
[H/T: The Hamilton Spectator]
It's simple, gang. The lockout is over, HNIC is about to return to the nation's (Canada's, I mean) TV screens, and Don is just doing what Don does: Call attention to himself in hopes of jacking up his audience. He doesn't care whether you love him or hate him, as long as you tune in. New idea, that. Yer welcome.