The Vancouver Canucks fired Mark Donnelly by tweet on Friday night after learning their famous anthem singer was set to sing “O Canada” during an anti-mask rally on Saturday.
The event, entitled the BC Christmas Freedom Rally 2020, will bring anti-vaccine advocates, conspiracy theorists, and far-right figures together to protest COVID-19 restrictions. The rally is set to be held from 12-4 pm in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery. According to the Vancouver Sun, the site has been the location for multiple anti-mask rallies before during the pandemic.
Francesco Aquilini, the Canucks owner, wasted no time with the controversy, firing Donnelly on Twitter as soon as he learned of his plans. “Hey @VancouverSun change the headline to ‘Former Canucks anthem singer,'” he wrote.
— Francesco Aquilini (@fr_aquilini) December 5, 2020
The Vancouver Sun’s Harrison Mooney spoke to Canucks team officials who confirmed the move.
The Freedom Rally is scheduled despite British Columbia announcing that all events, including demonstrations and rallies, are suspended to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The order also bans gatherings at hotels, bars, and movie theatres. The Vancouver Police Department told The Daily Hive that “they’re aware of the planned protest” and “will have officers on site that day to respond if anything should arise.”
The 60-year-old opera singer has been singing the anthem for the Canucks for 19 years. According to Wikipedia, Donnelly began singing national anthems for the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins while working for a Scranton, Pennsylvania parish. After moving back to British Columbia, he earned the gig from the team in 2001.
Screenshot courtesy of @NHL
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