The Canadian flag flies at half mast at Parliament Hill in Ottawa
The Canadian flag flies at half mast at Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Image by AP

Maple leaf flag ban in Canadian capital is make-believe

Kate Atkinson February 28, 2023
WHAT WAS CLAIMED

It is illegal to fly the Canadian flag in the city of Ottawa.

OUR VERDICT

False. There are no regulations to prohibit flying the Canadian flag.

A Facebook video claims that it is illegal to fly the Canadian flag in the nation’s capital city, Ottawa.

Canadian online commentator and podcaster Brad Wozny made the claim during a livestream with freedom group Stop the Rot Sack the Lot.

However, the claim is false. 

In the video (screenshot here) posted on February 8, Mr Wozny provides several warnings to the Australian audience about the rollout of 15-minute cities in Canada, the “woke movement” and the World Economic Forum.

“Last week it became illegal in the city of Ottawa to fly a Canada flag, in the nation’s capital,” he says (video mark 24mins 20sec).

Mr Wozny does not provide any evidence to support this claim in the video.

A screenshot of the Facebook post
 Canadian online commentator and podcaster Brad Wozny made the claim in a video on Facebook. 

Roger Chapman, director of by-law and regulatory services at the City of Ottawa, told AAP FactCheck in an email: “There are no regulations in the City of Ottawa that prohibit residents from flying the Canadian flag.”

A government webpage about rules for flying the national flag of Canada states “the manner in which flags may be displayed in Canada is not governed by legislation but by established practice and convention”.

It adds: “The National Flag must be flown at all federal government buildings, airports, as well as military bases and establishments within and outside Canada. It may be flown by night as well as by day.”

Forrest Pass, a vexillologist and curator at Library and Archives Canada, described the claim as “most certainly false”.

“Canadian flags abound in Ottawa year-round, on federal, provincial, and municipal buildings as well as private homes and businesses,” Dr Pass told AAP FactCheck in an email. 

He noted new interpretations of and misinformation about the Canadian flag emerged during the “freedom convoy” anti-vaccine mandate protests in early 2022.

A tennis fan displays a Canadian flag during the Australian Open
 A tennis fan displays a Canadian flag during the Australian Open in Melbourne. 

“For example, some participants in those protests spread the longstanding (and erroneous) theory that the presence of gold-fringed flags in court rooms indicate that the country is under maritime or martial law,” Dr Pass said.

“Others claimed that protesters could not be arrested if they were singing the national anthem – also, of course, erroneous.

“Like the flags of most modern democracies, the Canadian flag is a ‘citizens’ flag’ as well as a ‘state flag’. There are, therefore, virtual no legal restrictions on when, where, and how it can be used.

“This is part of what makes it so appealing to various political movements: it can represent any of a variety of ideas about what it means to be Canadian.”

AAP FactCheck has previously debunked claims made in videos by Stop the Rot Sack the Lot – see here, here, here, here and here.

The Verdict

The claim that it is illegal to fly the Canadian flag in the city of Ottawa is false. 

A City of Ottawa official told AAP FactCheck there are no regulations to prohibit people from flying the flag. Rules for displaying Canada’s national flag are not governed by legislation, but are established by longstanding customs and conventions.

False ÔÇô The claim is inaccurate.

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