What is Canada's Finance Minister's budget shoe tradition? What to know
Breaking down the details about the little-known Canadian political tradition.
Ahead of the 2023 federal budget announcement, Canada's Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland has some important shoes to fill — both literally and figuratively.
Leading up to Tuesday's budget reveal, Freeland stopped by a Simons store on Monday to pick herself up a new pair of heels. She reportedly described the (on sale) $100 black pumps as "comfortable, practical [and] on sale," and paid for them herself.
In case you're unfamiliar with why such an event would be considered newsworthy, it's worth noting the history behind the action: For years, finance ministers have taken part in a mysterious tradition involving the purchase of a new pair of shoes before each year's federal budget announcement.
But where does the tradition come from? And what exactly does it mean for modern Canadians? We're breaking it all down ahead.
Ahead of #Budget2023, I’m continuing the pre-budget tradition of selecting a new pair of shoes. I chose from a Canadian retailer Simons — and I look forward to wearing them tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/GhTSGCsERf
— Chrystia Freeland (@cafreeland) March 28, 2023
What is Canada's budget shoe tradition?
Typically, the finance minister is joined by journalists and photographers on a shopping expedition leading up to their budget speech.
While the "new shoe tradition" has been taking place since the 1950s, it's unclear exactly why it started. Some suggest that the practice was borrowed from the United Kingdom, but one of the earliest mentions of the "tradition" was found in a March 1960 newspaper article about then-Finance Minister Donald Fleming.
What do the shoes represent?
Although the event can be marked by the purchase of just about any pair of shoes, ministers usually opt for a pair that falls in line with the year's budgetary concerns. New shoes might suggest plenty of funds for the year ahead, while Canadian-made shoes could suggest an investment in Canadian business.
In 2022, Freeland opted for a pair of $138 block heel pumps from Montreal-based brand L'Intervalle. This year's "comfortable, practical [and] on sale" shoes are in line with her comments surrounding the 2023 budget.
"We’re unveiling the next steps of our plan to deliver meaningful support for Canadians; stronger public health care; and significant investments that will support great careers in a clean economy," Freeland tweeted on Monday.
What are Canadians saying
Given that the budget shoe tradition goes hand in hand with media coverage, there has been plenty of chatter online surrounding this year's purchase.
While some commended Freeland's attempt to support a Canadian business, others were disappointed that the shoes in question are actually made in Brazil.
Canadian retailer. Brazilian shoes.
Try harder, Frida. pic.twitter.com/RTRfaexz2b
— Clayton Beare 🇨🇦🍁🇨🇦 (@UrsidaeClay) March 28, 2023
Made in Brazil... There are many indigenous made footwear products that are also on sale and made in Canada
— House Of Pain (@mrjeremyhouse1) March 27, 2023
Others found the tradition to be "foolish" — particularly in light of the struggles that many Canadians are facing as costs of living continue to rise.
This is a foolish tradition and needs to end. It's so insulting to the 6 million Canadians who need to use food banks. No one cares about the details of her shoes.
— Carol Redford (@SongofFiji) March 28, 2023
While most Canadians struggle even putting food on the table!
You’re a gem.
— Todd McIntyre (@TMcIntyreforMLA) March 28, 2023
Glad you can afford new shoes, unlike us disabled people forced to live in poverty by your government.
— Jennifer (@JTkksmom) March 28, 2023
Bc so many Can afford $120 for shoes... Perhaps you should've went to a Giant Tiger or Wal-Mart or hey the new Zellers. You know the places many Canadians are shopping looking for sales bc of your gov.
— Steve Rae 🇨🇦🛢️⛽ (@SteveRae11) March 28, 2023
Given the generally negative reaction to the tradition, some Twitter users instead offered up alternatives to purchasing a pair of new shoes.
You should take a page out of MB Finance Minister who rather than buying himself a pair of shoes he bought a pair for a charity to give to someone in need. Instead you are going to make life more expensive for everyone as you raise taxes.
— M Loeppky (@Libropt) March 28, 2023
What you should be saying..."As a new-age Minister of Finance, I am going to break from tradition and donate the cost of a pair of new shoes those less fortunate." Obviously, running things traditionally is not working as the number living in poverty continues to rise.
— Kim Howat (@KimHowat) March 28, 2023
Instead of buying new shoes every year, wear out the ones you have. When they're no longer fit for purpose, buy another pair. That's fiscal responsibility and that's how to respect the Earth's resources.
Ms. Freeland, set a better example.
— Amanda Brown - Copy Editor & Writer (@journo_amanda) March 28, 2023
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