Vancouver Canucks Fire National Anthem Singer Due to Reported Performance at Anti-Mask Rally

The Vancouver Canucks have fired their longtime national anthem singer, Mark Donnelly. The news surfaced following reports that he would sing at an anti-mask rally in Vancouver. The team owner then tweeted that he was the "former" national anthem singer.

The Vancouver Sun reported on Friday that Donnelly had agreed to perform at a rally protesting COVID-19 restrictions. Team owner Francesco Aquilini tweeted at the newspaper, saying, "Hey [Vancouver Sun] change the headline to 'Former Canucks anthem singer.' [wear a mask]." A spokesperson for the team later confirmed the employment change with a statement to CBC. "You are safe to say his days are over," the spokesperson said.

"Mark Donnelly is acting independently and we hope the public understands he is not representing the Vancouver Canucks," said the team's COO Trent Carroll in a statement. "We encourage everyone to wear a mask and to follow the provincial health orders. They are in place to help everyone in BC to stop COVID-19 from spreading in our province."

When news surfaced that the Canucks had parted ways with Donnelly, a wide variety of people weighed in with vastly different opinions. Some called for the singer to sue the NHL team while citing wrongful termination. Others asked Aquilini why he was firing someone for "having a different opinion."

Of course, a large number also supported the Canucks and the decision to fire Donnelly. These Twitter users said that the singer "is a danger to Canadians" and that he represents the organization, as well as "putting people's health at risk." Others said that they have long called for him to lose his job due to other stances.

In 2012, Donnelly showed support for an anti-abortion caravan that toured Kelowna, British Columbia. A Calgary-based group used two cargo trucks to display images of aborted babies. The group also delivered hundreds of postcards to homes in the area.

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"We need the graphic imagery because some acts are so horrific that words fail us when we try to convey their true horror. And injustice that is invisible inevitably becomes tolerable," said Stephanie Gray, executive director of the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform.

Donnelly appeared at the downtown demonstration and spoke on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery. "If we can't discuss things rationally then we are not Canadians. We got to be able to talk," he said during the day. Some people supported his decision to appear at the demonstration while others expressed unhappiness, calling for the Canucks to fire Donnelly.