New shoes on budget day
The exact origins of this tradition are not known. The observance of this tradition has been inconsistent among federal ministers; indeed, for two or three finance ministers, this tradition only holds if "new shoes" is interpreted to mean "new footwear". It also makes appearances among provincial finance ministers.
While several Canadian parliamentary traditions have their origins in Britain, new shoes on budget day does not. Donald M. Fleming in 1960 was the first Minister of Finance known to follow a practice that was already being described in the media as "traditional", with one account claiming that the tradition of wearing "something new" began as early as Sir John Rose's first budget of 1868.
Walter L. Gordon, the next Finance Minister, did not wear new shoes for his three budgets from 1963 to 1965, but his successor Mitchell Sharp wore new shoes on budget day in 1966 after he was told that doing so was a tradition; "Later, I learned there was no tradition behind it at all", Sharp said. The following year there were two budgets, one in June where he wore new shoes and one in November. Sharp wore the same pair of shoes in November, as budget day fell on St. Andrew's Day. He said, "being a Scot, and this being the second budget I have presented this year, I am wearing the same shoes that I wore when I presented the budget on June 1."
Following Sharp, Edgar Benson wore a new pair of shoes on budget day in 1968, although he said, "He didn't buy them just for the budget." The following year he did not wear new shoes when delivering the budget, saying jokingly that he couldn't afford them, and in 1970 proudly displayed his worn soles on budget day.
Whether the next two Finance Ministers, John Turner and Donald Macdonald, delivered their budgets with new shoes is unknown. Macdonald's successor Jean Chrétien wore new shoes for both of his budgets of 1978. The next minister, John Crosbie, wore used mukluks in 1979 for his only budget. Following Crosbie, whether Allan MacEachen wore new shoes is unknown, but in 1984 his successor, Marc Lalonde, did for his second budget. Michael Wilson wore new shoes for the first four of the six budgets he presented beginning in 1985.
Wilson's successor, Donald Mazankowski, did not wear new shoes for his only one, in 1992. Paul Martin wore new work boots he received as a gift from Chrétien for his first budget, in 1994, but did not wear new footwear with subsequent budgets. John Manley did not wear new shoes for the one budget he tabled, in 2003. His successor, Ralph Goodale, released two budgets in 2004 and 2005, and wore new shoes both times.
Jim Flaherty wore new shoes for his first budget in 2006. For the second one, instead of wearing new shoes, he bought ice skates for his son. and resoled his shoes to show that his 2008 budget was fiscally prudent. Flaherty did not purchase new shoes for either of his two 2011 budgets, but did so in 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and February 7th, 2014.
Flaherty's successor, Joe Oliver, wore New Balance shoes with blue laces to underscore the fact that the Conservatives' 2015 budget was balanced. (The Conservative Party of Canada party colour is blue.) However, commenters pointed out that the shoes were made in the U.S., by a company that had abandoned Canadian manufacturing 20 years earlier.
Appearances by Provincial Ministers
In 2009, Nova Scotia finance minister Graham Steele polished his shoes when, as he later said, "we buffed up the previously introduced Progressive Conservative budget". In 2010 he bought children's shoes to represent the removal of the Harmonized Sales Tax from children's clothing. In 2011 Steele showed pictures of new shoes on a Blackberry Playbook because of the manufacturer's importance to the province, and in 2012 he bought shoes at a store to symbolize lowered taxes for small businesses.
Prince Edward Island
Saskatchewan finance minister Ken Krawetz first bought a new pair of shoes for budget day in 2013. He put them on with a shoehorn to demonstrate that the province faces what the minister described as "significant financial pressures on the treasury".
New shoes as a symbol
Wearing new shoes on budget day (or the refusal to do so) has been used as a symbol by politicians. Stockwell Day's outfit as Alberta Treasurer was intended to highlight "a new direction" for the budget. The tradition has been around for so long that, as Nova Scotia's Steele said after leaving his position, "It's hard to be original ... Every gimmick has been done", and passers by often ask finance ministers in the days before new budgets whether they have purchased new shoes yet.
- "Why do finance ministers wear new shoes to deliver a budget?". Ottawa Citizen. 2007-03-25. p. A2.
- Maurice Jefferies (March 31, 1960). "Fleming to reveal all tonight". The Windsor Star, p. 19.
- "Tradition prevails for Sharp". (June 2, 1967). The Windsor Star, p. 15.
- "The Minister of Finance's New Shoes". Library of Parliament, Parliament of Canada. 2013-03-21. Retrieved March 26, 2013.
- "The budget: less a model of thrift". (December 6, 1967). The Montreal Gazette, p. 7.
- Robert Hull (October 23, 1968). "Name makes tax no sweeter". The Windsor Star, p. 16.
- "Busy day for Mr. Benson". (June 4, 1969). The Montreal Gazette, p. 16.
- "Setting an example?". (March 13, 1970). The Windsor Star, p. 13.
- Tim Naumetz (2007-03-20). "Skates bought by Flaherty were nothing like budget". Vancouver Sun. p. A5.
- Flaherty's resoled shoes herald frugal budget
- Miro Cernetig (2007-02-21). "Victoria offers 10-per-cent tax cut". Vancouver Sun. pp. A1–A3.
- Jonathan Fowlie. "Taylor's green shoes to toe budget's climate change line". Vancouver Sun. p. A3.
- Gordon Hamilton (2005-02-15). "New spending, tax cuts for low earners". Vancouver Sun. p. A1.
- ""Inappropriate" to buy new shoes for budget: finance minister". Wellend Tribune. 2002-06-13. p. A2.
- Steele, Graham (2014-04-02). "How it feels to be finance minister on budget day". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
- "Sole man with budget". Montreal Gazette. 1989-05-16. p. A5.
- Kevin Dougherty (2003-03-11). "No goodies in budget, Marois warns: Something new, something blue;". Montreal Gazette. p. A11.
- "Showing his shoes". Charlottetown Guardian. 2006-03-23. p. A11.
- "New shoes for Pat Mella's budget blues". Charlottetown Guardian. 2003-03-27. p. A4.
- "Sask. budget will be tight, finance minister says". CBC News. 2013-03-20. Retrieved March 20, 2013.