Fredericton — It’s budget day for New Brunswick, as the province’s 2019-20 budget is being tabled in Fredericton this afternoon. To celebrate, Finance Minister Ernie Steeves symbolically displayed his old pair of shoes to reporters on Monday.
“We’re going to keep what we have, keep it in good shape, and go from there,” he had said. “We’re not going to spend new money on new shoes, that’s for sure.”
Inviting reporters to his office once again on Tuesday, Steeves showed that his commitment to conservation runs even deeper than that.
Pulling a piece of gum off of the sole of his shoe and popping it into his mouth, Steeves said that just a cursory look at the provincial budget reveals an “appalling” lack of maintenance and care for infrastructure and incidentals in the province.
“See all of these expenses on this spreadsheet? It is all unnecessary spending,” he said, before closing his MacBook and tossing it into the trash. “We need to let our government officials know that they can get more than one use out of things.”
Before continuing, the minister removed a yellow Q-tip from a tin in his breast pocket and began cleaning his ear.
“I think these agencies need to learn how to stretch things a little more,” he said, discreetly peeing into a Scrooge McDuck coffee mug. “I mean, I’ve been wearing this shirt for three months now. Thankfully, nobody’s noticed yet, because the colour keeps gradually changing.”
Bringing the cup to his lips, another thought to occurred to him. “Like, do you have any idea how many perfectly good needles the hospital just throws away? It’s obscene. Schools are the same way — every 10 years, like clockwork, teachers come looking for new history books. History doesn’t change! Let me assure you, they don’t put up with that kind of spending over in East Acadia.”
It is to combat this wasteful mentality that Steeves says he has decided to make a personal effort to make his own spending stretch further, once again citing the example of not replacing his old shoes.
“I’ve had these shoes for two weeks,” he said, photogenically shining them with spit and polish. “And, by gosh, I’m going to wear them for at least two more.”
The Manatee reminded him that, while it was a cute gesture, it had no real bearing on the taxpayer. After all, aren’t one’s shoes a personal expense?
The minister gave a confused look.
“Are they supposed to be?” he asked with a chuckle. “Next you’ll tell me that this pile of cocaine can’t be written off as a medical expense.”