It’s all over the internet. The Vancouver Canucks have “parted ways” with their official anthem singer, Mark Donnelly. This man has been belting out O Canada since early 2001, a whopping 19 years ago.
What causes an established NHL team to dismiss their beloved singer? A difference of opinion, that’s what. A serious difference of opinion. Mark Donnelly was scheduled to perform at the BC Christmas Freedom Rally 2020 – aka an anti-mask, anti-Covid precautions rally. This was not a smart career move, it seems.
Of course, Donnelly went on to sing at the rally. He even went so far as to say that he questions the “draconian lockdown protocols.” For those who don’t sound like they’re oppressed citizens of ancient societies, he was trying to say that the Covid restrictions are unusually cruel and severe.
Interestingly enough, this isn’t Donnelly’s first brush with controversy. Back in May of 2012, he performed the national anthem on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery (which, coincidentally, is the same location where the BC Christmas Freedom Rally 2020 was held) as part of an anti-abortion rally.
Donnelly’s dismissal wasn’t initially released to the public through any kind of official announcement from the NHL or the Canucks themselves. Instead, team owner Francesco Aquiini tweeted that the Vancouver Sun should change their article about Donnelly’s upcoming performance to say, “Former Canucks anthem singer.”
As you can see, Aquiini’s delightfully emphatic tweet was shared over 2,000 times and received 20,000 likes. It seems there are more pro-mask hockey fans than perhaps Donnelly had thought.
To be fair, Donnelly was part of a tribute to healthcare workers back in April. He stood in the courtyard of a senior living facility near Peace Arch Hospital and led 177 senior citizens in an emotional rendition of Oh Canada. For some reason, he did not mention these same health care workers during his appearance at the anti-mask rally.
Even though the Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, issued new rules in late November that prohibited all gatherings and events, the BC Christmas Freedom Rally 2020 still took place. Dr. Henry’s order includes “anything which gathers people together whether on a one-time, regular or irregular basis, including…” She went on to list just about every type of situation you can imagine where people might gather, like parties, church services, comedy shows, movies, auctions, and even demonstrations. There’s also the fact that 51 people have died from Covid in BC during the month of December. And it’s only the first week of December!
Despite all of this, this “Freedom Rally” attracted a crowd of approximately 500 people.
In an interview prior to his appearance on Saturday, Mark Donnelly claimed that “I sing ‘O Canada’ as a sign of unity and strength for all Canadians. The true north strong and free.” Unfortunately, what Canada truly needs right now is to be united in the fight to eradicate Covid 19.
For more thoughts and opinions from Melanie, check out her author page.
AP Photo/Jay LaPrete