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 ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.