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The networking started in earnest yesterday as the Ontario Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce held the first of its monthly luncheon meetings in Toronto.

Ontario Chamber of Commerce president Douglas Robson welcomed the added lobbying clout that the gay and lesbian associates bring to the central business body.

A staff sergeant from the Metropolitan Toronto Police invited the new chamber to nominate a representative to serve on a "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered consultative committee" being formed by the force.

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The chamber's new social convener, Michael MacDonell, promoted his downtown restaurant by donating a dinner for two as a door prize -- this after jokingly explaining the lack of dessert at yesterday's buffet luncheon by saying "everyone is too fat anyway."

Ric Tremaine, owner of a Toronto inn that caters to gay and lesbian business travellers, lingered after the meeting to describe the work he is doing with the City of Toronto to promote the city as a "gay friendly" travel destination.

Gay travellers are a well-heeled niche market, Mr. Tremaine said. "We don't have 2.1 children."

Business cards changed hands.

The establishment of an Ontario chamber is a welcome development, said Liberal MPP George Smitherman, who owns a film-processing business.

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