May 28, 2024
Press Coverage

UPDATED: City of Calgary fires Transit driver who refused to operate Pride bus

By Bill Kaufmann , Laura Booth, Calgary Sun

The Calgary Transit driver who refused to operate a rainbow coloured Pride Week bus was fired for posting Nazi-related content on his Facebook page, according to his termination letter.

Jesse Rau was dismissed from his job Thursday for breaching Calgary Transit’s code of conduct.

In his termination letter, provided to the media by Rau, it cites “abhorrent” posts to Facebook and “false and misleading comments,” made to the media, as some of the reasons for his firing.

“You identified yourself as a Calgary Transit employee in connection with your Facebook profile page where you have posted Nazi-related content which is abhorrent and contrary to the values The City promotes,” states the letter.

Rau said his post did not support Nazism.

It was a depiction of a rainbow flag with a swastika in the centre and the word “homofacism” written on it, he said.

“If you speak against this, what I call a sexual ideology, you will be destroyed, and that’s what I’ve experienced,” said Rau, when talking about the meaning of the post.

He also posted a second photo referencing Nazism, meant to convey a similar message, he said.

Calgary’s notice of termination also stated Rau was never asked to drive the rainbow-coloured Pride bus.

“You repeatedly suggested that The City was requiring you to operate the Pride Bus and that you would lose your job if you refused. No one ever asked you to operate the Pride Bus and you were specifically advised that you would not be assigned the Pride Bus as part of your work,” according to the letter.

However, Rau insists transit is persecuting him for his Christian beliefs that forbid him from “promoting” homosexuality and expressing his personal opinions.

Rau made public his refusal to drive the bus just before the Aug. 28 launch of Pride Week.

He said his work record was good enough for him to be considered for a promotion prior to the controversy lin which he expressed his opinion on homosexuality on social media and refused to drive the bus.

Rau said he was ordered to stop posting those views on Facebook and faced a five-hour “interrogation” by his employer before being fired.

During a press conference Friday, Doug Morgan, director of Calgary Transit said he could not comment on specific employee matters but did address the employee code of conduct.

Morgan said when an employee is accused of violating policy, Calgary Transit always holds an investigative meeting and the union gets involved.

Friday, the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 583 confirmed a grievance had been filed on Rau’s behalf.

At the time of his dismissal, Rau was just shy of passing his one-year probation, he said.

Throughout the controversy, Rau has been backed by controversial Street Church preacher Artur Pawlowski, who’s run afoul of city bylaws.

Pawlowski is asking for donations to support Rau with family and legal expenses.

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