Following in the footsteps of Imelda Marcos

Image mens shoes A long time acquaintance frequently rails against, what he refers to as, the most unsavoury elements of our society today: "bankers, lawyers and politicians". Initially, I contemplated writing a detailed missive on Jim Flaherty's latest budget noting, in particular, planned social benefit cuts poised to affect one of the most vulnerable segments of society: low income seniors. Not surprisingly, politicians have remained suspiciously silent on any cuts to their own opulent golden parachutes. As I pondered what fashion of whore-beast could even consider implementing such a disparate and self-serving policy, I reached the inevitable and incontrovertible conclusion: "The only good Tory is a suppository". It would be unfair, and exceedingly inattentive, to categorize the Conservatives as standing alone in their embrace of this culture of entitlement. Even the casual observer couldn't help but notice that no single federal politician has advocated that similar austerity be implemented on their generous publically-funded pensions. For a reality check, consider this: after 8 years service, an MP's pension exceeds $9,000 per month. Their non-partisan solidarity of silence only serves to reconfirm my suspicions on the etymology of the word politics... from the Greek word "poly" meaning many, and "ticks"... blood sucking vermin.... poly-ticks....

A peculiar practice in Canadian politics holds that Ministers of Finance should wear new shoes the day the budget is delivered to Parliament. Unlike most Canadian political traditions which have their roots in the British Parliamentary system, the origins of the "new shoes on budget day" practice is, according to Parliament of Canada researchers who have tracked the phenomena, of unknown origin. Of course the researchers, in their quest to trace the history of the practice, fail to consider, in my view, the two most significant aspects of this silly Canadian quirk: "How much does it cost Canadian taxpayers?" and "What is its symbolism?.

So how much does it cost the Canadian taxpayer to "foot the bill" for this strange podophilic practice? One observer commenting on a Canadian fashion website noted that Flaherty dropped $138.98 at Ottawa's Rideau Centre Aldo for his new pair of budget day clodhoppers. Incidentally, Flaherty has purchased new footwear for five of his six tabled budgets. The exception was in the 2008 budget when, instead of purchasing new shoes, he resoled his old ones. Half my stuffed armadillo collection and two bottles of Wild Turkey says an access to information request would reveal the aforementioned sales receipt on an expense report.

Indeed, there will be no shortage of critics willing to dismiss a public expenditure of $138.98 as insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Sadly, these individuals miss the point entirely. It is not the amount of the expenditure that is in question; it is the necessity of the expenditure itself which lay at the root of this criticism. What politician, in good conscience, can slip into a new pair of wellies to commemorate the elimination of social benefits for low income seniors? To put it in perspective, perhaps the Parliament of Canada researchers could forcast a date which approximates at what point our Finance Ministers achive the somewhat ignoble landmark by surpassing Imelda Marcos in footwear purchases.

What, then, does the "new shoes on budget day" tradition symbolize? What's its purpose? Why has it become a part of our political landscape? According to the Calgary Herald, it's all about appearance. "The job of revenue officials is to milk the cow dry. The job of the finance minister is, make it look pretty". Not surprisingly, I take a somewhat more cynical view: the Finance Minister's shoes symbolize Parliament's authority to impose taxation policies on the citizenry. They're not pretty loafers... they're jackboots... and they have no regard for those over whom they trample.

Submitted by Norm de Plume, 07 April 2012