Quebec police spark outrage after seizing bagpiper's sgian-dubh

A prominent Canadian bagpiper has won overwhelming public support after police fined the man for carrying a sgian-dubh.

Jim McCarthy is a prominent Quebec piper. Picture: Twitter
Jim McCarthy is a prominent Quebec piper. Picture: Twitter

Jeff McCarthy from Montreal, Quebec, was ticketed on Wednesday when officers stopped him for having the ceremonial knife tucked into his sock.

The 48-year-old landed a $221 fine and his sgian-dubh - a traditional part of Highland dress - was confiscated.

McCarthy, is occasionally seen on Montreal streets parading as a member of Canada’s famed Black Watch Royal Highland Regiment.

Since the incident, the piper has received a surge of supportive messages from local residents and even the city’s mayor has waded into the debate after his story went public.

“What? Were the police in clown pants?” Mayor Denis Coderre quipped on Friday.

“I’m not getting involved in police operations,” Coderre added. “I don’t think he was a threat but I don’t know the circumstances. It’s up to them but maybe (the police) should show some judgment.”

The fluently bilingual McCarthy comes from an ethnically diverse family. His father is of Irish and French descent, while his mother is of Jamaican descent.

McCarthy, whose grandmother was Scottish, said he felt his ancestry was being targeted by police.

He told the Montreal Gazette: “My concern is that Scottish people in general are going to be targeted for wearing a sgian-dubh. Certain questions come to mind: Are they going to set up a paddy wagon in front of the Highland Games?

“Are they going to be bring in the task force when they hold the annual St. Andrew’s Ball in a couple of weeks? Let me tell you, there are lot of people there wearing a sgian-dubh.”

Montreal police said Friday they would verify the account of the infraction before making any comment.