Mark Donnelly, who has been the anthem singer for the Vancouver Canucks NHL hockey team since 2001, performs O Canada at a protest against measures taken by public health authorities to curb the spread of COVID-19, in Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Mark Donnelly, who has been the anthem singer for the Vancouver Canucks NHL hockey team since 2001, performs O Canada at a protest against measures taken by public health authorities to curb the spread of COVID-19, in Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Vancouver Canucks owner cuts ties with anthem singer who planned to sing at COVID protest

Donnelly has been performing for NHL club since 2001

The popular singer of O Canada at the Vancouver Canucks hockey games says he knew he might lose his job for standing up against what he describes as the “tyranny” of COVID-19 restrictions.

Mark Donnelly sang the anthem at an event called the Christmas Freedom Rally in Vancouver on Saturday, where hundreds of people protested restrictions imposed by B.C.’s provincial health officer.

Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini tweeted late Friday that Donnelly was now the former Canucks anthem singer, followed by the hashtag #wearamask.

Donnelly told the crowd, many of whom weren’t wearing masks or social distancing, that he decided to sing because he questions the “draconian lockdown protocols.”

“What was originally sold as 15-day hunkering down sprint for the common good has turned into a 10-month marathon from hell, where the finish line is constantly being moved further into the distance,” he said.

He said he doesn’t think health officials have done a cost-benefit analysis looking at the harms of the restrictions compared with preventing the spread of COVID-19.

“As someone known for singing our great national anthem, I’m standing up against what I feel is tyranny, plain and simple,” he said to applause and cheers from the crowd.

Donnelly said his firing is censorship by an institution that he’s followed for 50 years and been publicly associated with since 2001.

“Sports figures, entertainers, politicians, et cetera, can stand for anything as long as it supports the narrative. You can support rioting, looting, destructions of livelihoods and reputation, but take a position against the narrative and you are worthy of exile or worse.”

Donnelly said he hasn’t had direct contact with Aquilini or the Canucks and if he is no longer with the team, a phone call would have been a more respectful way to find out his reasons for taking part in the rally.

He had hoped the ownership and management of the Canucks would have had the “courage to support the freedom to express science-based position that is for the greater good of the country,” he said.

No one from the Canucks responded to a request for comment.

The protesters then took to the streets in a march.

Vancouver police spokeswoman Tania Visintin said police need to exercise discretion with large groups of protesters violating public health orders, saying public safety is the priority.

She said mass arrests or ticketing could escalate an already tense situation.

“This position does not automatically guarantee anyone special privileges at a protest. The bottom line is people who are contravening the public health order, they could be issued a ticket. Officers are using discretion with each situation that arises.”

B.C. health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said last month that she has “no time for people who believe that wearing a mask somehow makes them ill or is a sign of lack of freedom.”

Instead, she said wearing a mask is about respect for those who suffering through the pandemic together.

—with files from News 1130.

The Canadian Press

READ MORE: Canucks unveil redesigned jersey as part of NHL’s ‘Reverse Retro’ collection

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

CanucksCoronavirusvideo

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria police arrested a man after at least 14 downtown locations were damaged Jan. 20. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Victoria glass smashing suspect believed to be water taxi thief

Man arrested for damaging at least 14 downtown locations

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

Saanich has awarded the tender for a youth bike skills park planned for the lot next to the George Tripp BC Hydro Substation off Lochside Drive to Bike Track Ltd. for $242,000. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich selects company to build youth bike skills track at Tripp Station Park

More than $240,000 allotted for Bike Track Ltd. to design bike park

West Shore RCMP seized a stolen fish finder and drugs after searching a Colwood home Jan. 9. (Black Press Media file photo)
Search of Colwood home reveals stolen fish finder, drug trafficking evidence

West Shore RCMP suspect a 46-year-old woman is responsible

Metchosin Coun. Kyara Kahakauwila is stepping down as deputy mayor following controversy over her decision to travel to Mexico in December. (Black Press Media file photo)
Councillor steps down as deputy mayor of Metchosin after controversial trip to Mexico

Mayor hopeful mediation will help council get back to the business of community

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
One in five tests in Fernie area coming back positive: doctor

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
From the “You can’t make this stuff up” file – stories from the BC CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

(Thesendboys/Instagram)
Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

The RCMP are reminding drivers to find alternative ways home if they have consumed anything that impairs their ability to drive. (Black Press file photo)
Impaired Island driver flees road check twice on the same night

The officer issued the driver numerous violation tickets, and a four-month driving suspension

Inspection of bridge crossing on a B.C. forest service road. (B.C. Forest Practices Board)
B.C. falling behind in maintenance of forest service roads

Auditor finds nearly half of bridges overdue for repair

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at a fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. Mowi Canada has applied to the Federal Court of Canada for a judicial review of the decision by Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan to phase out salmon farming in the Discovery Islands by June, 2022. (Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward photo)
Major B.C. salmon farms seek court intervention in Discovery Islands ban

Fisheries minister is phasing out operations in the area by June 2022

(Black Press Media files)
Woman steals bottles of wine after brandishing stun baton in New Westminster

Police say the female suspect was wearing a beige trench coat with fur lining

Most Read