EDITORIAL – Complaining about COVID rules shouldn’t cost you your job

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

THE GUY WHO SINGS for the Vancouver Canucks is out of a job.

His name is Mark Donnelly and, up until last weekend, he was employed by the hockey team to sing the national anthem at Canucks games. He used his national anthem skills at what was called a Christmas Freedom Rally in Vancouver, basically a protest against COVID-19 restrictions.

Donnelly is quoted as calling those restrictions “draconian lockdown protocols” and “tyranny, plain and simple.” He later called his firing “censorship.”

I continue to be baffled by those who get so bent out of shape over pandemic restrictions — especially the wearing of masks. These measures are, indeed, a loss of freedom. But we voluntarily — either as individuals or through the governments we elect — infringe on our own freedoms in all sorts of ways for the common good.

We wear seatbelts, for example, because the government tells us we must. We used to complain about it — maybe still do — but we’ve come to accept the need for it both for our own safety and to reduce health care costs.

And we accept restrictions on our actions and rules we must follow in countless ways in everyday life, from traffic lights to paying taxes, not carrying guns around (in Canada, at least), not smoking in theatres and not bothering our neighbours with loud music.

All these things are for the common good. We use laws or rules to control behaviour that negatively affects others.

We even have laws about what we can and can’t say, because words matter. I have trouble with someone losing his job for what he says about a very public issue, though. Although freedom of speech isn’t absolute, firing someone for stating an unpopular opinion seems unfair.

Mark Donnelly should have to abide by the rules like everyone else, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be allowed to complain about them.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (9052 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

5 Comments on EDITORIAL – Complaining about COVID rules shouldn’t cost you your job

  1. I’m going to partly disagree with you here.

    I was good until the second to last paragraph. If this was a guy refusing to actually work in a mask environment with a mask on … then ya … he should be fired for non compliance with policy. If he was a person giving this message to media as a personal belief, then using a mask at work … then he should not be fired, he has a right to be an idiot, but if he follows policy … have at ‘er … everyone at work thinks hes an idiot and gives him a wider berth.

    In this case we have a person (public or private), not just sharing the belief to just media, much more importantly, actively taking part in a mask free protest, thereby increasing the risk to himself, and increasing the possibility that he could bring the virus to work … so ya … he should be fired, or at the very least directed to change this behaviour and self isolate for two weeks before returning to work. I have a feeling this joker would have refused that, leaving an employer no option but to fire him. Employers are bound to maintaining a healthy work space.

    It doesn’t really matter if the issue is a very public one on its own, I doubt that if he was a pro-lifer he would have lost his job. This is different, its a public health issue, and in fact given the actual Health Order in place disallowing a get together like this in the first place, his act of disobedience to that order transcends just having ‘an opinion on a public issue’.

  2. Ian MacKenzie // December 8, 2020 at 1:12 PM // Reply

    Public protest as is allowed in Canada, is Ok so long as it doesn’t harm others. His influence on the behavior of others has the potential to harm many others. They made the correct call.

  3. We all have choices: people, organizations and companies. There are consequences for those choices. If you disagree with those choices there are remedies to correct. Through the courts or through court of public opinion.
    That’s how democracy works.

  4. He works for a private organization & he is something of a public figure linked to that org even when not working. Just like players, he likely has a clause in his contract requiring him “to conduct himself on and off the rink according to the highest standards of honesty, morality, fair play and sportsmanship, and to refrain from conduct detrimental to the best interest of the club, the league or professional hockey generally.” Since his behaviour is likely unrepresentative of the club’s values, I think they made the right call. Given his past actions with anti-abortion groups, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had already been warned.

  5. He will have plenty of time to protest now. To comfortably live in a society is a give-take exercise and to do as one pleases without regards for consequences to others…yes there are penalties for that kind of behaviour. The hospitals are indeed filling up and the situation is worrisome, do your part, wear a mask, stay low key.

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