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Flaherty buys new pre-budget shoes

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's buys new pre-budget shoes, March 20, 2013. He says "they're Oxfords, they're sensible"

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty continued the age-old tradition of picking up a new pair of shoes before he tables his budget in the House of Commons on Thursday.

He visited the Roots Leather Factory in Toronto, on Caledonia Road, Wednesday.

The new shoes are plain black leather dress shoes with the Harper government’s “action plan” logo on the side.

Flaherty describes the shoes as “amazingly comfortable.”

It’s one of the few traditions in the House of Commons that wasn’t borrowed from the Westminster system in England, but not even the Library of Parliament can figure out its origins.

The first finance minister to buy new shoes for budget day was Donald Fleming in 1960. At the time, it was called a tradition but no could explain how it came about.

Ralph Goodale, who was finance minister from 2003 to 2006, said shoes are a way to show where the country’s finances are heading.

“Whether they’re fancy dress shoes with buckles and bows, or good practical work boots that signal a more practical intention,” Goodale said.

In 2004, Goodale wore black oxfords, while in 2005, he wore black square-toed Ecco shoes with polyurethane soles.

In 1979, John Crosbie did not buy new shoes, but wore used mukluks, while Paul Martin wore black work boots in 1994.

Despite it being called a tradition, only eight finance ministers are known to have bought new footwear for the budget, and no one has done it more than Flaherty.

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