“Riding for the brand” is an expression from the early days of cattle ranching in North America. It was a term that referenced how an operator gained the loyalty of a ranch hand. If you took a man’s money, you rode for that brand and only that brand.
When most people think of the term “brand,” they think of its most literal meaning which is the mark that indicated ownership of cattle. A rancher’s brand was their trademark and represented not only ownership but it also represented pride, duty, and stewardship while inspiring loyalty, dedication, and camaraderie.
When a hired hand rode for the brand, it meant that you had signed on to the mission; that you were committed, and most importantly, it meant you were a dedicated team player. If you weren’t, then you had no business being on the ranch’s payroll.
Much like those days gone by of the rancher-ranch hand relationship, an elected representative is hired on to “ride for the brand.” In Alberta, the brand MLA’s are hired to ride for is very specific; it’s the brand of the people in their constituency.
Unfortunately, not all MLAs in this province ride for the right brand, or for that matter, the right reason. As the MLA for Drumheller Stettler, it’s clear that my position is to act in the best interest of the constituents in the riding I proudly call home; anything less would be a betrayal of my constituents and me.
A few weeks ago, I asked a question of the Premier in Stettler, concerning the acute care beds that the people of Consort were promised would re-open if the conditions laid out by the province were met. Well it’s been six months, they’ve met those conditions, and we still have no definitive answer from the Alberta government.
When I asked the question I referred to the constituency as “my constituency” and was scolded by the Premier for doing so. She told me that it was “my constituents’ constituency.” With all due respect, I beg to differ; it is my constituency, just as it is every person’s that proudly calls Drumheller Stettler home.
As we’ve seen time and again, far too many people in public office ride for the brand that appears on their election signs, instead of the brand that represents their constituents.
There’s a poem by Paul Harwitz called “Riding for the Brand,” in which he accurately describes the values that have built Alberta; pride, trust, community, integrity, and teamwork are what have been the most successful keys for many Albertans over its history.
The most profound line in the poem, in my opinion, has to be “it means that you don’t work just for a buck.” Something that could very well be the most important value any representative of the people could have.
As a member of the Wildrose Official Opposition, I am proud to have the ability to ride for only one brand-the constituents of Drumheller Stettler.
If you have any questions concerning this article please contact my office.
— From The Legislature