Bill Morneau picks budget day shoes from Edmonton’s Poppy Barley for 2 – Dilrose

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Bill Morneau picks budget day shoes from Edmonton’s Poppy Barley for 2nd year in a row

For the second year in a row, federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau will wear a pair of shoes from Edmonton company Poppy Barley, when he tables the budget next week.

The annual shoe tradition is an unusual one with a mysterious background, but selecting the same shoe company two years in a row is unprecedented, the Edmonton shoemaker said. Poppy Barley said it was again considered a perfect fit for the occasion for being a Canadian, female-founded business.

Last year Morneau chose a pair of black Edmonton Oxfords, described as their “classiest, dressiest shoe.” For 2018, he went with the Jasper Derby in black calf and deer, purchased for $250 through the company’s sample sale. The derby shoe is described as being the ultimate in comfort (and class).

Bill Morneau, left, standing with Poppy Barley co-founder Kendall Barber in Toronto. February 23, 2018.

Bill Morneau, left, standing with Poppy Barley co-founder Kendall Barber in Toronto. February 23, 2018.

Courtesy: Kendall Barber

READ MORE: Federal budget 2018 to be introduced on Feb. 27

One of the predominant themes of next week’s federal budget will be increasing the workforce participation of women – and recently released internal documents point to big economic benefits for Canada if it can help more women enter the job market.

“Our plan to strengthen the middle class and help people working hard to join it is working, but we know that there is more work to do,” Morneau said in a statement Friday morning.

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau wears a new pair of shoes from Edmonton\’s Poppy Barley Shoe manufacturer as he sits wth students from Toronto\’s Rose Avenue Junior Public School during a pre-budget photo opportunity in Toronto, on Friday February 23, 2018.

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau wears a new pair of shoes from Edmonton\’s Poppy Barley Shoe manufacturer as he sits with students from Toronto\’s Rose Avenue Junior Public School during a pre-budget photo opportunity in Toronto, on Friday, February 23, 2018.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

“We need to eliminate the gender gap and make sure everyone is given a real and fair chance to succeed. It is not only the right thing to do for Canada, but it is also the smart thing to do to keep our economy growing and remain competitive well into the future.”

READ MORE: Federal budget 2018 aims to increase workforce participation of women

Beyond being a female-founded business, last year Morneau chose Poppy Barleybecause it showcases innovation in the e-commerce space by being the first company in North America to offer made-to-order boots online and it believes in ethical and transparent manufacturing.

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau talks to students after taking part in the pre-budget ceremony of putting on new shoes at the Nelson Mandela Park Public School in Toronto, Monday March 20, 2017.

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau talks to students after taking part in the pre-budget ceremony of putting on new shoes at the Nelson Mandela Park Public School in Toronto, Monday March 20, 2017.

Mark Blinch, The Canadian Press

Poppy Barley was founded in 2012 by sisters Kendall and Justine Barber with the help of Startup Edmonton. It initially offered made-to-order women’s boots. It later expanded to flats, ankle boots and leather bags, and in 2015 began making men’s footwear.

READ MORE: Family Day at the family business: 2 sets of sisters run Edmonton company

In 2017, Poppy Barley opened its first physical store at Edmonton’s Southgate Centre mall. The company’s leather shoes and accessories are designed in Edmonton and manufactured in León, Mexico.

Almost every year, sometime before delivering his budget speech to the House of Commons, the finance minister buys new shoes.

The purchase is often reflective of the message the minister intends to send when it comes to the budget.

Tough times such as a recession? Forego new shoes in favor of a worn-in pair or even work boots. Sending a message about investing in the future? Do as then-Alberta finance minister Doug Horner did in 2014 and buy his grandkids shoes instead of a pair for himself.

Alberta Finance Minister Doug Horner shows off shoes he bought for his grandchildren at pre-budget press conference in Edmonton on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.

Alberta Finance Minister Doug Horner shows off shoes he bought for his grandchildren at pre-budget press conference in Edmonton on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.

Jason Franson, The Canadian Press

Unlike many parliamentary traditions, though, this one doesn’t seem to come from the British, where the tradition is refreshment-based rather than fashion-based.

READ MORE: The finance minister’s new shoes is a purely Canadian, though mysterious, tradition

Westminster tradition calls for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to bring in a box carrying any liquid refreshment of his choosing to imbibe while delivering the budget speech, according to the Library of Parliament.

Hitting a wall in Britain, the brilliant and tireless Library researchers on this side of the pond dug and dug to figure out how and when exactly the shoe tradition started in Canada.

Unfortunately, they came up empty-handed, despite speaking with every finance minister and their office from Douglas C. Abbott, who was finance minister from 1946 to 1954 to Michael Wilson, who was finance minister under Brian Mulroney beginning in 1984.

The earliest mention of new shoes for budget day researchers found was in a March 1960 newspaper article. Though the report alluded to the “tradition,” it failed to offer any insight into its origin.

All told, there’s no denying the purchase has become a tried and true Canadian tradition in which even provinces take part.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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