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On Budget Day the Finance Minister Will Wear Edmonton's Poppy Barley Shoes. Again.

Last updated: 03-15-2019

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On Budget Day the Finance Minister Will Wear Edmonton's Poppy Barley Shoes. Again.

No one really knows where the 'new shoe' tradition started.

For the second year in a row, the Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau will table his budget in a pair of Poppy Barley shoes. Edmonton-based sisters Justine and Kendall Barber started the leather footwear and accessories company in 2012. Today Poppy Barley has employees (mostly female) in Canada and León, Mexico, where they manufacture their leather items ethically and transparently

Morneau unveiled his new shoes—theJasper Derby in Black Calf and Deer, purchased for $250 through the company’s sample sale—today at the Rose Avenue Junior Public School in Toronto. Kendall Barber, co-founder of Poppy Barley, was on-site for the occasion.

New shoes on budget day is a longstanding Canadian tradition though it’s roots are hard to trace. The act of putting on new shoes (or wearing old ones for that matter) is laden with meaning and cultural significance. The actual federal budget will be tabled on February 27th but the shoes are usually unveiled a little earlier so that people can begin speculating about its contents and what the government agenda will be.

Seeing as Poppy Barley is a Canadian, female-founded business, this would indicate the government is intent on promoting Canadian women and gender equality.  But what does the sample sale component say? There is an aspect of frugality or is it about buying small-runs and one-of-a-kinds. Canada’s prime minister has been vocal in his support of NAFTA and continued trade with Mexico, so this makes sense too. And since this is the first time a company has been used two years in a row by the finance minister, that must imply loyalty and confidence in previous decisions? Right?

In years past Jean Chretien and the late Joe Flaherty both wore new shoes on budget day. One year Flaherty bought new skates for his son (perhaps this had something to do with Stephen Harper‘s children’s fitness tax credit?) and in 2008 he resoled his shoes to prove the Harper government was being fiscally responsible. In 2015 Joe Oliver wore New Balance runners to remind the country his party had balanced the budget.

Provincial finance ministers get in on the act as well. Just last week, British Columbia’s finance minister skipped the practice entirely. But in 2006, the province’s then finance minister Carole Taylor wore a $600 pair of  Gucci pumps, saying she was investing for the long term. One can only assume that didn’t over too well because the next year she resoled a pair of red pumps. Either way, I kind of like her


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