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Since the Trump administration announced the new zero tolerance border policy that caused thousands of children to be separated from their families and detained in centres across the United States, several members of government have been chased from public spaces. District of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and the policy’s architect, Trump adviser Stephen Miller were both called out on separate occasions at Mexican restaurants last week. Over the weekend, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked by the owner of the Red Hen Restaurant to leave the Virginia establishment because of her support and defence of Trump’s policies and behaviours.

Sanders tweeted about the experience from her official White House account, calling out the restaurant’s owner and backhandedly implying that the move was disrespectful.

The debate rages both on- and off-line about who was in the wrong here — should the owner have let Sanders be? Was it unethical to use a government-affiliated account to single out an American business? The president even weighed in (of course), saying the restaurant should focus on cleaning its “filthy canopies, doors and windows” rather than refusing service to a “fine person” like Sarah Sanders.

It’s a terrifying message to be sent by the president of the United States to an independent business in his own country. Since then, the restaurant has received hateful messages from Trump and Sanders supporters but not all of them quite hit their target.

The Olde Red Hen Restaurant in Collingwood, Ontario has the misfortune of sharing a name with the American establishment that denied Sanders service and some people are having difficulty distinguishing the two online. The Canadian restaurant has received hateful messages calling the owners bigoted and ignorant and a number of negative reviews from people who have never set foot in the store.

Owner Diane Smith was shocked at first to see all the hatred, but quickly realized what had happened. She posted on Facebook to set the record straight and informed each commentor individually that their anger was misdirected. Regulars at the Ontario restaurant also chimed in to point out that Sanders was not attempting to dine in Southern Ontario Friday night.

Both Yelp and TripAdviser are looking into the onslaught of negative reviews and comments directed at the restaurant in the past few days. They will be reviewing and removing comments that refer to the Sanders incident.