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Canucks anthem singer Mark Donnelly axed for appearance at anti-mask rally

Click to play video 'Canucks anthem singer axed over anti-mask rally' Canucks anthem singer axed over anti-mask rally
Canucks anthem singer axed over anti-mask rally – Dec 5, 2020

He’s long been a staple of Vancouver Canucks home games, but it appears Mark Donnelly has sung the national anthem for the last time in Rogers Arena.

Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini took to Twitter Friday, responding to a Vancouver Sun report that the Canucks’ anthem singer would be performing at an anti-mask rally in Vancouver on Saturday.

Read more: Anti-mask protesters descend on Vancouver for 2nd day of ‘mega freedom rally’

“Hey @VancouverSun, change the headline to ‘Former Canucks anthem singer.’ #wearamask,” wrote Aquilini.

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Click to play video '‘Freedom Rally’: hundreds protest pandemic protocols in Vancouver' ‘Freedom Rally’: hundreds protest pandemic protocols in Vancouver
‘Freedom Rally’: hundreds protest pandemic protocols in Vancouver – Oct 18, 2020

At Saturday’s rally, Donnelly performed the national anthem as planned, after delivering a statement to the crowd.

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“What is my choice? To support the side of an argument which is being marginalized and censored, concerning existential public protocol,” Donnelly said.

“For that it appears I am being marginalized on social media. And in a certain way, censored by an institution I have followed and supported for 50 years, and been publicly associated with for 20.”

Gatherings of more than 50 people have been banned by public health order in B.C. since March. In November, the province extended that ban to all social gatherings.

Saturday’s “B.C. Christmas Freedom Rally” is being organized in part by Ryan Kulbaba, who has spearheaded several other anti-mask rallies in Vancouver since July.

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Read more: Vancouver protesters rally against masks, though experts say they slow spread of COVID-19

The events have featured a variety of anti-vaccine speakers and decried what participants say is censorship and government overreach.

Others have expressed fears that a vaccine would be made mandatory, or argued that the fatality rate from the virus does not justify the economic effects of restrictions.

Previous Vancouver rallies have also drawn believers in a range of conspiracy theories, including debunked myths that masks cause cancer or other health issues, baseless accusations that Bill Gates plans to use vaccines to implant microchips in people, and the U.S.-based QAnon fantasy which claims a cabal of U.S. pedophile politicians are consuming children’s blood.

Click to play video 'British Columbians opposed to wearing masks hold Vancouver protest' British Columbians opposed to wearing masks hold Vancouver protest
British Columbians opposed to wearing masks hold Vancouver protest – Jul 19, 2020

Posters for Saturday’s rally declare “we oppose government orders & will gather for the holidays.”

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Read more: QAnon conspiracy theorists, far-right group join Vancouver anti-mask rally

Along with Donnelly, the event features a message from Santa, singing, speeches from vaccine opponent Ted Kuntz and the group Hugs over Masks, comedy, an anti-5G presentation and evangelical anti-SOGI123 activist and former People’s Party of Canada candidate Laura Lynn Tyler Thomas.