[URBAN NOTE] Toronto Life’s Q&A with Marcus McCann about the Marie Curtis Park arrests
Courtney Shea’s Toronto Life Q&A highlights some of the issues with the recent arrests in Marie Curtis Park. At the very least, it looks like more information is needed from police about what, exactly, happened.
First, a little background. What can you tell us about how Marie Curtis Park became a popular location for sexual encounters?
It’s a large park in the southwest end of Toronto that straddles Toronto and Mississauga. There’s a playground, a bicycle trail and wooded areas. Because it’s so secluded, it has long been a park in which gay men meet. The recent gentrification of the neighbourhood has put pressure on that.
You’ve offered free legal services to 72 people who have been charged as a result of Operation Marie. Why is this important to you?
Over the weekend, lawyers began coming together on the Law Union of Ontario listserv. We know these kinds of charges can have very severe consequences. Not because of the legal repercussions—many of the charges are just bylaw infractions—but because of the shame and stigma attached. There is the risk of outing these people to their families, and there are potential employment consequences. The Toronto Police have now admitted that all of the charges relate to consensual sexual activity between adults. That’s important, because there has been misinformation on that.
How does one trespass at a public park?
In some parks there are curfews, so you’re not allowed to be there after a certain time. The very fact that there are so many trespassing charges suggests that these undercover sting operations were happening very late at night, which puts to lie the suggestion that this was being done to protect children.