The Liberal Government is set to reveal the 2022 budget in Ottawa today (April 7) and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland will be wearing a pair of brand new patent leather pumps from Montreal brand L'intervalle to mark the occasion.
Her new shoes are part of a long, if slightly strange, tradition of Canadian finance ministers purchasing new shoes for the budget reading. The footwear is meant to symbolize what kind of year the public can expect. The first year the tradition was acknowledged in the media was in 1955 but it was actually a note about the departure from tradition when Walter Harris told the Windsor Star and the Ottawa Citizen that he couldn't afford them. So the actual origin of the budget shoes remains unknown.
What we do know is that when Freeland posted a short video to her Instagram last night the comments were less than kind.
Freeland visited the Ottawa outpost of L'intervalle where she was greeted by co-founder Vita (Vicky) Scalia who showed her their collection of brightly coloured shoes in bold shapes with chunky platforms and whimsical loafers. The creative footwear raises some eyebrows when juxtaposed with the seriousness of the nation's budget, but, in the end, Freeland swapped out the sneakers she was wearing for a pair of classic and understated black high heels—opting out of the style L'intervalle is known for but in keeping with the role of government official.
I'm not sure what it says about the budget though. The brand is Canadian although manufactured in Europe and affordable without being considered cheap. Do with that what you will.
Despite this being a long-standing tradition for both men and women in this role it feels as if the reaction to Freeland's shopping excursion on social media is a bit disproportionate. Comments like "Bought with taxpayers money," "What a ridiculous show," and "She’s never seen a pair of steel toe work boots" bump up against hot takes such as "I’m ready to read the worst budget in history" and "tell that to the single mothers she froze the bank accounts of 😂."
It's hard to know if the commentators take issue with the shoes, the tradition, the minister or all of the above. Wait until they see the budget.