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.
Read more: Canucks anthem singer let go for ‘standing up against’ COVID rules