July 11, 2022

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with UCalgary vet med researchers at Calgary Stampede

Animal welfare and veterinary medicine’s impact on society were part of the informal discussion
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks with UCVM research team at the Calgary Stampede. l
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks with UCVM research team at the Calgary Stampede. Todd Korol

After flipping flapjacks at a pancake breakfast in northeast Calgary Sunday morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s next stop was the Calgary Stampede where he met with UCalgary faculty and students.

Trudeau, accompanied by his son, Xavier, and Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault, asked a variety of questions about animal welfare and veterinary medicine as he toured behind the scenes at the rodeo grandstand.

“It was great to have the opportunity to discuss how veterinary medicine impacts social, economic and environmental sustainability of society,” says Dr. Renate Weller, dean of the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM).

“I’m really proud of the meaningful work of my team — students and faculty alike — to safeguard animal welfare.”

Dr. Ed Pajor, PhD, says it was a fantastic opportunity to share the wide range of research being done at UCVM.

“The prime minister was really interested in some of the sustainable agriculture work we are doing at W.A. Ranches as well as our collaborative partnership with the Calgary Stampede,” says Pajor, who is the director of W.A. Ranches and the Anderson-Chisholm Chair in Animal Care and Welfare. He’s been doing research aimed at improving the welfare of rodeo stock for many years.

It’s really unique to have the Stampede so supportive of our research efforts to improve the welfare and wellness of rodeo animals.

When the visit was being planned, the Prime Minister’s Office was expressly interested in having Trudeau meet with vet med researchers and students.

‘Charismatic and genuinely interested’ 

For Allison Vesely, who is going into her second year in UCVM’s doctor of veterinary medicine program, it was "a really cool experience. It was nice to have him come out and talk with us about our work with the Stampede. He was very charismatic and was genuinely interested in who we are and what we’re doing here at the Stampede.”

“He was very approachable and specifically asked about what we hope to do with the research and if we had any early findings,” adds Dr. Anice Thomas, PhD'22, who is leading Pajor’s research team at the Stampede.

“It was nice to articulate what we are doing and have it validated. It’s like ‘Hey, you’re doing something that makes a difference.’”

And although the visit wasn’t long enough to include a tour of the chuckwagon barns, the prime minister did talk with Dr. Renaud Léguillette about his extensive research on the equine athletes that compete at the Stampede.

“We were able to talk to the prime minister about our faculty doing some really impactful animal health and welfare research right in the community, outside the ivory tower, here at the Calgary Stampede,” says Léguillette, DVM, PhD, professor at the UCVM and Calgary Chair of Equine Sports Medicine, who is researching with the Stampede on how to optimize the conditions to reduce the risk of leg fractures in chuckwagon horses.