Mark Donnelly Sings Anthem at Anti-Abortion Rally

Thomas Drance
June 01 2012 12:58PM

Earlier this week (Tuesday May 29th), on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Canucks anthem singer Mark Donnelly - who himself has nine children - opened up an anti-abortion rally by singing "Oh Canada." The crowd's reaction (there were many pro-choice protesters in attendance) was largely negative, and Donnelly was treated to a hearty chorus of boo's and cat calls throughout his rendition of the National Anthem. Before beginning to sing, Mark Donnelly offered the following statement:

"I'd just like to say. There's a lot of Canadians, both born and unborn, and this is for all of us, for everyone out here too and all of Canada.

Remember if we can't discuss things rationally, then we're not Canadians, we have to be able to talk"

We may disagree (in fact, we vehemently disagree) with Donnelly's point of view, but let's keep in mind the ideal of "reasoned, rational discussion" through the balance of this post, and in the comments section. Read past the jump for more.

The rally was hosted by the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR), you can visit their website at unmaskingchoice.com, and was designed to launch "The New Abortion Caravan," a cross country tour that is meant to mimic the famed 1970 "Abortion Caravan" in which Canadian woman travelled across the country on a crusade to educate the public about the importance of a woman's right to choose. The CCBR explains the goals of their campaign as such: 

On May 29, a team of young people who are survivors—all born at a time when their peers were being killed—will be re-tracing the steps of the 1970 Caravan. This New Abortion Caravan will also use vivid imagery. However, instead of focusing on a woman's "choice," this team from the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR) will use abortion imagery to force the Canadian public to consider what is being chosen.

The pre-born are Canada's invisible children. It is time to make them, and their plight, visible to a public largely unaware of their fate.

As you can hear in the audio, the crowd's reaction to Donnelly's singing of the anthem was rude in the extreme. I frankly find the language and tactics of this campaign distasteful (in particular, putting the word choice in quotation marks makes me a bit sick) but I also can't stomach the booing of the National Anthem.

The CCBR put out a Press Release in reaction to "abortion advocates [shouting down the national anthem]" that describes the standoff between the anti-abortion and pro-choice advocates at the rally.

Vancouver. Anti-abortion activists launched their cross-country tour of bloody abortion trucks on Tuesday from the Vancouver Art Gallery, amidst violence, verbal assault, and public indecency on behalf of pro-choice protestors. At the beginning of the launch, abortion advocates attempted to shout down the National Anthem as it was sung by Vancouver celebrity Mark Donnelly. One protester stripped naked while another used a bike lock to smash a side mirror from the group’s truck.

The press release also advises media members to contact Stephanie Gray, their executive director for images of the "20+ graphic hand held signs" that were in the hands of the pro-choice protestors.

In recent months, individual members of the Canucks organization have drawn criticism for their very public, and totally legal participation in events that tread somewhat on the sensibilities of a majority of Vancouverites. In April, Paolo Aquilini asked Louie Giglio to pray for the health of Daniel Sedin and in May, Canucks forward David Booth boasted about his hunting exploits on Twitter, and posted a video of him successfully killing a baited bear with a bow and arrow (that video was later removed). Guns and god don't tend to play that well in Vancouver proper, a city that leans leftward on cultural and political issues. In the country as a whole, a clear plurality of Canadians identify themselves as "pro-life" and only 27% of respondents to a 2010 EKOS poll identified themselves as "Anti-Abortion."

We've commented before on the Canucks seeming preference for a "low-risk" approach to brand building in the digital space. As Harrison Mooney recently put it, "The Canucks are committed to building the most fan-friendly, inclusive, inoffensive brand for their players as possible," but as we've seen consistently this season: events on the ground have made that nigh impossible at times.

Donnelly's public expression of his controversial beliefs is very likely to result in significant backlash. The backlash won't just be against the anthem singer himself, either, as already a small handful of folks on Twitter are calling on fans to complain to the organization. In David Booth's case, Mike Gillis reiterated the team's desire not to "muzzle" their players. It'll be curious to see if Mark Donnelly is extended the same level of organizational support.

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Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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#1 Jes Golbez
June 01 2012, 01:44PM
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It's getting harder to support this team between the overly religious animal abuser (Booth), the slumlord owners, and now this... Ugh.

The National Anthem is a song. That's it. Anyone who puts anything more into it needs to get their priorities in check. The fact that it is sung before sporting events was a Cold War installation designed to conform the masses.

Donnelly and his group used this song as part of their propaganda, as a propaganda technique, so he, and his signing, deserve any negative reaction received.

Drance, you chose to bring this on to you blog, despite Donnelly distancing himself (Thankfully) from his Canucks gig while doing this. If you want to bring politics to your blog, self-censorship is just lame.

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#2 Dylan Kirkman
June 01 2012, 01:05PM
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I don't care much at all what his personal beliefs are. He's an excellent singer and he got the crowds at Rogers Arena singing the anthem with him. I certainly hope this doesn't come back to bite him.

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#3 Cam Davie
June 01 2012, 01:07PM
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One thing that I noticed in this clip is that there is one notable word that is never said here:

CANUCKS

When Donnelly is introduced, he is not introduced as the team's anthem singer. Not at all. I imagine that was very much by design.

I doubt the Canucks did that. I suspect that Donnelly himself crafted his intro and MADE SURE to omit the Canucks.

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#6 Julia
June 01 2012, 05:24PM
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As much as I vehemently, emphatically, absolutely oppose his anti-choice beliefs, I don't think the Canucks should take any sort of action towards him. Though much of his popularity and cachet stems from being the Canucks anthem singer, he didn't link himself to the organization ( at least in the video) and he should have the right to express his personal beliefs away from the rink.

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#7 CanucksForWomen
June 01 2012, 05:34PM
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Although I agree that Donnelly is perfectly welcome to his own private views, he is still very much a symbol of the Canucks, whether intended or not. Regardless of the fact that Donnelly acted as an individual as he offered his very public support for the "new abortion caravan" - a group which uses highly graphic and offensive material - his celebrity status is still incredibly tied to the Canucks.

As such, like it or not, "Mr. Oh Canada" and the Canucks associations are going to be tied to this highly politically charged and greatly upsetting event. And as an event which is deeply upsetting and greatly offensive to so many people, I wouldn't think that the Canucks would want to be connected to such a thing.

While I don't think that Donnelly should necessarily be dismissed from his position, given the public relations issues that have been happening as of lately, I do think that the it would be in the best interests for the Canucks to publicly show their support for women's health and safety in some way.

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#8 They're $hittie
June 01 2012, 08:27PM
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Thought this was a free country. Celebrities, are entitled to an opinion also. The Canucks organization are not respecting diversity in its full form if they do not respect the opinions and rights of their staff.

Was this employee in any shape of from wearing a canucks logo? and while some may think it is implied by his celebrity status he is not representing him. This is the same as the canucks organization not responsible for the riots last year.

This world has gotten to friggen politically correct that people are not just scared of what they said but are scared of what there peers opinions and views might be. In no way am i supporting one side or the other. but this has gotten ridiculous.

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