Top sports anchor fired over beliefs on marriage: ‘This can happen to you’
TORONTO, Ontario, June 23, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A former top sports anchor who revealed to LifeSiteNews Wednesday that he is filing a human rights complaint against Rogers Communications, after the company fired him for publicly backing true marriage, says his termination over his deeply-held religious beliefs affects all Canadians.
“My message to the millions of Canadians participating in social media is that ‘this can happen to you’,” said Damian Goddard Thursday in an official statement. “I was terminated 24 hours after expressing a widely-held opinion from my personal Twitter account - an opinion consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church. And an opinion that is supposed to be protected by Canada’s constitution.”
The former host of “Connected,” who is a lifelong Catholic, had tweeted May 10th his support of Burlington hockey agent Todd Reynolds, who created a stir when he criticized New York Rangers hockey star Sean Avery for shooting a TV ad backing gay “marriage.”
“I completely and wholeheartedly support Todd Reynolds and his support for the traditional and TRUE meaning of marriage,” Goddard tweeted. He also voiced support for U.S. Olympic gold medalist Peter Vidmar, who resigned as chef de mission for the 2012 U.S. Olympic team after homosexual activists created a controversy over his support for true marriage.
Sportsnet immediately distanced themselves from the comments on their own Twitter account, and then fired him within approximately 24 hours. “Mr. Goddard was a freelance contractor and in recent weeks it had become clear that he is not the right fit for our organization,” said Sportsnet spokesman Dave Rashford in a statement.
Goddard told LifeSiteNews on Wednesday that the company had given him a “ringing endorsement” just a week before the incident.
Goddard’s lawyer, William Gale, said his “sudden and very public termination” is “a clear violation of Damian’s freedom of speech and his freedom of religion - two fundamental rights that are supposed to be afforded to every Canadian.”
“Critics on Twitter were calling for his head because he expressed a commonly held opinion that they didn’t like. Rogers answered that call swiftly and publicly. By doing so, they cemented the impression that his Catholic beliefs are inappropriate and grounds for dismissal,” continued Gale, who is a partner with employment and labor law firm Grosman, Grosman & Gale.
“We also contend that unless it is challenged, this ‘termination after a tweet’ threatens to set a dangerous precedent for all Canadians in this still-evolving world of social media,” he added.
Rogers spokesman Dave Rashford told LifeSiteNews Thursday, “Mr. Goddard is aware of the reasons - which are well documented - why he is no longer with Rogers Sportsnet.”
“Out of respect for our employees we do not discuss personnel issues in the press. We will, however, bring forward the facts during any proceeding initiated by Mr. Goddard,” he added.
Over the past six weeks, Goddard’s termination by Rogers Communications Inc. has generated international media coverage. He will be appearing on The Michael Coren Show on Thursday evening.
Sportsnet Contact Information:
Scott Moore, President of Broadcasting
Scott Woodgate, Vice-President News & Information
Phone: (416) 764 6505
Dave Rashford, Director of Communications
Phone: (416) 764 6368