WINNIPEG - Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger is going out to lunch in a show of support for two small-town restaurant owners who say homophobia has chased them out of business.
Selinger took to Twitter Thursday to announce that he will have lunch next week at the Pots N Hands restaurant in Morris, south of Winnipeg.
"Congrats Mayor (Gavin) van der Linde & Morris on stand against racism and homophobic bullying. Lunch at Pots N Hands next week during flood prep," the premier tweeted.
The premier later said in an interview that his meal is intended to send a message "that Manitoba is an inclusive province that respects all Manitobans and their right to exist and make a living."
"We believe in human rights and we believe everybody should be treated with dignity and respect."
The visit will occur during a tour of the Red River Valley south of Winnipeg that Selinger had already scheduled. The region is gearing up for its annual fight against spring flooding.
Selinger's decision followed news that Dave Claringbould and his partner were closing Pots N Hands just four months after opening, because of insults that had been hurled their way. Their final day will be April 13.
Claringbould, 35, said one customer asked him if there was anything contagious on a plate because a gay couple had prepared it. Other customers simply stopped coming after finding out the owners are gay.
Morris' mayor has thrown his support behind the couple. Van der Linde posted a message on the town's web site this week that said "the people who represent Morris support our local businesses regardless of race, belief, and/or sexual orientation (which really should go without saying. It is very disappointing that this has become an issue in our town)."
Manitoba's Opposition leader also condemned the anti-gay remarks.
"It's always disappointing when people conduct themselves in a way that doesn't reflect the reality that you should treat other people like you yourself would be treated," Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister said Thursday.