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

The Art Infiniti Hotel caught fire on New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31, 2020) in Maple Ridge. Seven people were evacuated safely. (Barry Brinkman/Special to The News)
LETTER: Headline about Maple Ridge fire victim insensitive

Senior lost everything in Dec. 31 fire and letter writer felt denture reference inappropriate

Maple Ridge released its winter program guide recently. (Special to The News)
City unveils numerous winter programs and activities

Maple Ridge unveils guide that takes into consideration COVID-19

Corina Ardelean, right, and a volunteer wait for clients at Christian Life Assembly in Maple Ridge. (Special to The News)
Romanian refugees fulfill mission in Maple Ridge

Helping struggling families put food on the table

Maple Ridge’s Bruce Coughlan. (Special to The News)
Robbie Burns day to be feted virtually by Maple Ridge musician

Bruce Coughlan will hold virtual concert in Campbell River theatre in honour of Scottish bard

Naturally Splendid employees working at a flow wrapper station at its facility in Pitt Meadows (Special to The News)
Plant-based Pitt Meadows business pivots during pandemic

Naturally Splendid partners with Australian company on bringing meat substitute to Canada

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

Pindie Dhaliwal, one of the organizers for the Surrey Challo protest for Indian farmers. She says organizers were told by Surrey RCMP that the event was not allowed due to COVID-19. Organizers ended up moving the protest to Strawberry Hill at the last minute. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Indian farmers rally moves as organizers say Surrey RCMP told them they couldn’t gather

Protest originally planned in Cloverdale, moved to Strawberry Hill

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

Most Read