Driver who opposed Calgary Transit’s Pride bus says he was let go

Erika Stark, Calgary Herald

The Calgary Transit bus driver who said last month he’d quit if he had to drive Calgary’s Pride-themed rainbow bus has been fired.

In August, Jesse Rau told media he would not drive the bus, which ran for duration of Pride week along various routes, because it goes against his beliefs as a Christian.

At a press conference Friday, Rau told reporters he was dismissed from his job a day earlier for “standing for (his) Christian faith.”

“It’s something that I 100 per cent expected,” said Rau, who was joined by his pastor Artur Pawlowski at the press conference.

Pawlowski, a controversial street minister, once claimed the 2013 southern Alberta floods were caused, in part, by God’s unhappiness about homosexuality.

“I expected that my job was totally on the line,” said Rau, who had been on the job for a year and was nearing the end of his probationary period. “The fact that they fired me, it’s hurtful, but … I knew that was on the table.”

According to Rau’s notice of termination, which he supplied to reporters, Rau made “false and misleading comments” about the Pride bus that “put the reputation of The City at risk.”

The notice said Calgary Transit advised Rau that he was never asked to drive the bus and would not be assigned to it. When asked if he ever specifically told the city he did not want to drive the bus, Rau said, “that’s not the issue.”

“When I was applying to the City of Calgary, I understood that I was going to be working in a safe environment where others are not allowed to push their beliefs and ideologies on me,” he said.

Rau’s termination notice also cited ‘abhorrent’ Nazi-related content posted on Rau’s Facebook page as another grounds for dismissal.

Rau countered that the Facebook content in question was actually a handful of anti-fascist posts.

Transit director Doug Morgan couldn’t comment specifically on Rau’s case, but said Calgary Transit has a code of conduct that all employees are expected to follow. The code of conduct also covers social media and public comments.

“What we want to do is make sure when statements are made publicly that they reflect truthfulness in the corporation and the values put forward by the City of Calgary and council,” he said.

Pawlowsi will hold a rally at City Hall in October to raise money for Rau to hire a lawyer.

estark@calgaryherald.com

twitter.com/erikamstark

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