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

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau is joined by students from Toronto's Rose Avenue Junior Public School and his adopted daughter Grace as he tries on a pair of shoes from Edmonton's Poppy Barley Shoe manufacturer during a pre-budget photo opportunity in Toronto on Friday February 23, 2018.
Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau is joined by students from Toronto's Rose Avenue Junior Public School and his adopted daughter Grace as he tries on a pair of shoes from Edmonton's Poppy Barley Shoe manufacturer during a pre-budget photo opportunity in Toronto on Friday February 23, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

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.

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“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 wth 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 Barley because 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.

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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.

Poppy Barley founders Kendall (left) and Justine Barber (right).
Poppy Barley founders Kendall (left) and Justine Barber (right). Supplied
Local shoe company Poppy Barley's first store, located in Southgate Center in south Edmonton.
Local shoe company Poppy Barley's first store, located in Southgate Center in south Edmonton. Supplied
Local shoe company Poppy Barley's first store, located in Southgate Center in south Edmonton.
Local shoe company Poppy Barley's first store, located in Southgate Center in south Edmonton. Supplied
Local shoe company Poppy Barley's first store, located in Southgate Center in south Edmonton.
Local shoe company Poppy Barley's first store, located in Southgate Center in south Edmonton. Supplied
Local shoe company Poppy Barley's first store, located in Southgate Center in south Edmonton.
Local shoe company Poppy Barley's first store, located in Southgate Center in south Edmonton. Supplied
Local shoe company Poppy Barley's first store, located in Southgate Center in south Edmonton.
Local shoe company Poppy Barley's first store, located in Southgate Center in south Edmonton. Supplied

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

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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 favour 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.

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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.

Canada's federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau takes part in the pre-budget ceremony of putting on new shoes at the Nelson Mandela Park Public School in Toronto, Monday March 20, 2017.
Canada's federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau takes part in the pre-budget ceremony of putting on new shoes at the Nelson Mandela Park Public School in Toronto, Monday March 20, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch
Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci presents a new pair of soccer shoes to 11-year-old Yusef Moalim during a pre-budget photo opportunity in Edmonton, Alta., on Tuesday March 14, 2017. The new soccer shoes represent a more affordable lifestyle for families with the upcoming budget.
Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci presents a new pair of soccer shoes to 11-year-old Yusef Moalim during a pre-budget photo opportunity in Edmonton, Alta., on Tuesday March 14, 2017. The new soccer shoes represent a more affordable lifestyle for families with the upcoming budget. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver shows off his new budget shoes during a photo opportunity in Toronto on Monday, April 20, 2015.
Federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver shows off his new budget shoes during a photo opportunity in Toronto on Monday, April 20, 2015. Frank Gunn / The Canadian Press
B.C. Finance Minister Michael de Jong tries on his 2015 budget dress shoes at Olde Town Shoe Repair in Victoria, B.C. Monday, February 16, 2015.
B.C. Finance Minister Michael de Jong tries on his 2015 budget dress shoes at Olde Town Shoe Repair in Victoria, B.C. Monday, February 16, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty puts on his annual pre-budget shoes at the Roots Leather Factory in Toronto on March 20, 2013.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty puts on his annual pre-budget shoes at the Roots Leather Factory in Toronto on March 20, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Alberta Finance Minister Doug Horner shines his shoes in advance of the Alberta budget which will be announced Thursday, at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton, Alberta on Wednesday, March 6, 2013.
Alberta Finance Minister Doug Horner shines his shoes in advance of the Alberta budget which will be announced Thursday, at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton, Alberta on Wednesday, March 6, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
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Finance Minister Jim Flaherty shows off his newly re-soled shoes during a pre-budget photo opportunity at  Healthy Feet Shoe Repair in Ottawa on Monday, March 22, 2011.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty shows off his newly re-soled shoes during a pre-budget photo opportunity at Healthy Feet Shoe Repair in Ottawa on Monday, March 22, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada's Finance Minister Jim Flaherty leaves a shoe shop after buying  a pair of shoes at a store in Whitby Ontario on Monday March 1, 2010 during a tradional photo op ahead of this week's  federal budget.
Canada's Finance Minister Jim Flaherty leaves a shoe shop after buying a pair of shoes at a store in Whitby Ontario on Monday March 1, 2010 during a tradional photo op ahead of this week's federal budget. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tries on a pair of shoes during a pre-budget photo op in Gatineau, Quebec Monday, Jan. 26, 2009.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tries on a pair of shoes during a pre-budget photo op in Gatineau, Quebec Monday, Jan. 26, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty buys a pair of new shoes May 1,  2006, which were made in Canada.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty buys a pair of new shoes May 1, 2006, which were made in Canada. CP Photo / Jake Wright
Finance Minister Ralph Goodale jokingly shows off his new budget shoes following a news conference regarding the federal budget that he tabled in the House of Commons earlier in Ottawa Tuesday, March 23, 2004.
Finance Minister Ralph Goodale jokingly shows off his new budget shoes following a news conference regarding the federal budget that he tabled in the House of Commons earlier in Ottawa Tuesday, March 23, 2004. CP PHOTO/Jonathan Hayward
Finance Minister Ralph Goodale shows off his new shoes following a news conference in Ottawa. Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2005.
Finance Minister Ralph Goodale shows off his new shoes following a news conference in Ottawa. Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2005. CP PHOTO/Jonathan Hayward
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Finance Minister Michael Wilson is pictured showing off his new shoes prior to the upcoming federal budget on Feb. 20, 1986 in Ottawa.
Finance Minister Michael Wilson is pictured showing off his new shoes prior to the upcoming federal budget on Feb. 20, 1986 in Ottawa. The Canadian Press
This is an April 10, 1978, photo of then Finance Minister Jean Chretien kicking up his heels and baring the sole of one of his new pair of shoes as he left the Parliament Building in Ottawa after presenting his budget.
This is an April 10, 1978, photo of then Finance Minister Jean Chretien kicking up his heels and baring the sole of one of his new pair of shoes as he left the Parliament Building in Ottawa after presenting his budget. This is an April 10, 1978, photo of then Finance Minister Jean Chretien kicking up his heels and baring the sole of one of his new pair of shoes as he left the Parliament Building in Ottawa after presenting his budget.
Walking alongside Prime Minister Clark as he makes his way to the Commons to deliver his first budget Dec. 11, 1979, in Ottawa. Finance Minister John Crosbie (left) lifts his pant leg to display his new boots.
Walking alongside Prime Minister Clark as he makes his way to the Commons to deliver his first budget Dec. 11, 1979, in Ottawa. Finance Minister John Crosbie (left) lifts his pant leg to display his new boots. PHOTO/Bill Grimshaw

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.

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