10/05/2011 03:51 EDT | Updated 12/05/2011 05:12 EST

Tory minister says flag law won't apply to MPs because they've agreed it won't

OTTAWA - The Maple Leaf may be forever, but it isn't for everyone.

A proposed new Conservative law that enforces Canadians' right to fly the flag won't apply to MPs on Parliament Hill, Heritage Minister James Moore said Wednesday.

A private member's bill, backed by Moore, would make it illegal to stop someone from displaying the Maple Leaf.

The bill addresses a minor irritant that primarily involves condominium owners and apartment dwellers, where signed contracts may forbid hanging items such as flags, flower baskets and satellite dishes outside the building.

Condo boards and building owners, on penalty of jail time, would no longer be able to enforce such rules against nationalist flag-wavers if the legislation is passed.

But what's good for the Canadian goose is not necessarily good for the parliamentary gander, Moore said when asked about rules forbidding MPs from having a flag in the window of their parliamentary offices.

"It's a consensus that all parties will operate on a standard within the parliamentary precinct and MPs can choose to — obviously have a responsibility to — abide by the rules that we mutually agree to," Moore said following a Conservative caucus meeting.

Asked specifically if the proposed law will apply to MPs, Moore said "No."

"Members of Parliament voluntarily agree to the Board of Internal Economy consensus on how we should operate on the Hill. We choose to do that ourselves."

But, asked a reporter, don't condo owners voluntarily agree to the rules of the condo?

At this, Moore raised the white flag and beat a hasty retreat from the scrum without a response.

The legislation was proposed by Ontario backbench Tory John Carmichael and would impose punishments including restraining orders, injunctions, a fine or jail sentences of up to two years.

When he introduced the bill with Moore, Carmichael acknowledged that condominium owners can arrange their affairs any way they choose.

"But I don't think Canadians' right to display the Canadian flag should be stepped on by Canadians who feel otherwise," said Carmichael.

Since winning a majority mandate in May, the Harper Conservatives have made a point of highlighting a number of traditional Canadian symbols.

That has included restoring the "royal" designation to the air force and navy, directing that the Queen's portrait be hung in Canada's foreign missions and promoting various historical events from the country's past, including the War of 1812.