John Loewen

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John Loewen (/ˈlvɛn/; born December 21, 1949) is a businessman and politician in Manitoba, Canada. He served in the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba from 1999 to 2005 as a member of the Progressive Conservative Party,[1] and campaigned for the Canadian House of Commons in 2006 and 2008 as a Liberal.[2] He is the nephew of Bill and Shirley Loewen, prominent entrepreneurs and philanthropists in Winnipeg.[3]

Early life and career[edit]

Loewen was born in Elkhorn, Manitoba,[2] and raised in Winnipeg. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Manitoba in 1973.[2] Tall and athletic, Loewen was a prominent member of the University of Manitoba Bisons basketball team.[citation needed] He joined the payroll services company Comcheq Services Ltd. (now called Ceridian) in 1973. He later served as company president from 1984 until 1998.[2]

In 1993, Loewen oversaw Comcheq's transformation into a subsidiary of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC).[4] There were concerns that the Winnipeg company's autonomy would be undermined by the national bank, but the CIBC initially allowed it to remain fairly independent.[5] Loewen attempted to reacquire the company in 1998, but was unsuccessful.[6]

Loewen has for many years been a prominent figure supporting Manitoba's sports community. He developed a plan to financially support the province's Olympic athletes in the early 1990s, and helped establish the Winnipeg Thunder basketball team in 1992 with future mayor Sam Katz.[7] He has also provided financial assistance to several athletic programs. In 1994, a newspaper columnist in Winnipeg described Comcheq as "probably the most generous private-sector supporter of elite athletes in the province".[8]

Loewen helped create the Manitoba Entertainment Complex group (MEC) in 1994, in an effort to purchase controlling shares in the Winnipeg Jets hockey franchise and keep the team in the city.[9] Loewen chaired the MEC, and participated in plans to build a new arena for the team. Despite his efforts, the Jets were forced to leave the city in 1996. Loewen argued that the National Hockey League and commissioner Gary Bettman undermined his efforts, by presenting unreasonable demands shortly before an official deadline.[10] In 2006, he indicated that the major-level investors necessary for maintaining a National Hockey League franchise simply did not exist in Winnipeg in the mid-1990s.[11]

Loewen has been a board member and chairman of Economic Development Winnipeg, a council member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Manitoba, a board member and president of the Big Brothers and Sisters Association of Winnipeg and president of both the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and the Linden Woods Community Association.[2] He has also been involved with the United Way of Winnipeg, serving on the United Way Cabinet from 1994 until 1999 as Chair of the Major Corporate Division and Deputy Chair of Business. He is a founding Director of the Business Council of Manitoba.

There were rumours that Loewen would run for Mayor of Winnipeg in 1998, but he declined.[12]

Until 2012 John Loewen was the President of Telpay, a electronic payments company which was originally started as a research and development project by Comcheq.[3] Telpay is the largest independent payment processing company in Canada having processed over 23 million payments worth over $14 billion in 2009.[13]

Provincial politics[edit]

Loewen entered political life in Manitoba's 1999 provincial election, winning election for the newly created south Winnipeg constituency of Fort Whyte. Running as a Progressive Conservative, he defeated New Democrat Bidhu Jha by 3,665 votes. The New Democratic Party won the election, and Loewen became a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) in the Official Opposition. He was appointed as his party's critic for Intergovernmental Affairs, and was later promoted to Finance Critic.[14] Considered a rising star in his party, there was some speculation that he would run to succeed Gary Filmon as party leader in 2000.[15] He decided against this when the party establishment united behind Stuart Murray.

He was a moderate in the Manitoba Progressive Conservative Party, and supported the centre-right Progressive Conservative Party of Canada rather than the right-wing Canadian Alliance at the federal level, even though many of his colleagues backed the Alliance. In 2001, Loewen was the only member of the provincial PC caucus to attend a Winnipeg fundraiser for federal PC leader Joe Clark.[16] In the same year, he criticized the provincial New Democratic government of Gary Doer for not going far enough in extending rights to same-sex couples.[17]

Loewen became involved a serious controversy in early 2002, after issuing a media notice that was strongly critical of Manitoba's Crocus investment portfolio. He wrote that the company held investments "in a number of Manitoba companies" that were "in financial difficulty", and requested that the government ask the Auditor General to review the valuation of the fund. His statement was met with strong opposition from Crocus, which threatened legal action.[18] Loewen was subsequently demoted from his position as Finance Critic by Stuart Murray, and was required to make a formal apology to the legislature in April 2002.[19] Almost three years later, Crocus stopped trading and was forced into receivership. Many believe Loewen's concerns were vindicated by the trust's eventual failure.[20] Loewen criticized several parties, including the government, opposition and senior Crocus management, when discussing the firm's failure in a 2007 interview.[21]

He was re-elected in the 2003 election by a slightly reduced margin. In late 2003, he introduced a bill to phase out Video Lottery Terminals from the province.[22]

Federal politics[edit]

The Progressive Conservative Party of Canada merged with the Canadian Alliance in early 2004 to create the Conservative Party of Canada. Loewen initially supported the new party, but announced on September 23, 2005 that he would seek the federal Liberal nomination for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia in the upcoming federal election. In making the announcement, Loewen said he was uncomfortable with the social conservatism of Conservative leader Stephen Harper, and that he "never believed in the policies of the former Alliance and Reform parties" which he described as "dominat[ing] the [Conservative] party".[23] He resigned from the provincial legislature on September 26, 2005, and subsequently beat Gennarino Conte for the Liberal nomination.[24] He lost to Conservative incumbent Steven Fletcher in the 2006 federal election, as the Conservatives gained twenty-five seats to form a minority government. Loewen acknowledged that the national trend worked against his candidacy.[25]

After the election, Loewen returned to the board of TelPay, formerly a division of Comcheq. He is also a partner in Payworks, an internet based payroll service. As a volunteer, he is leading the fund raising efforts for construction of the North End Wellness Centre in Winnipeg.[26]

In 2007, Loewen was acclaimed as the Liberal candidate for Winnipeg South. He lost to Conservative incumbent Rod Bruinooge in the 2008 federal election.

Table of offices held[edit]

Preceded by
division created in 1999
Member of the Manitoba Legislature for Fort Whyte
Succeeded by
Hugh McFadyen

Electoral record[edit]

Canadian federal election, 2008
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Conservative Rod Bruinooge 19,954 48.83 +7.42 $74,312
Liberal John Loewen 14,221 34.80 -6.35 $73,677
New Democratic Sean Robert 4,673 11.43 -2.29 $9,507
Green David Cosby 1,839 4.50 +1.42 $3,312
Christian Heritage Heidi Loewen-Steffano 173 0.42 -0.19 $804
Total valid votes/Expense limit 40,860 100.00   $78,463
Total rejected ballots 179 0.44 +0.1
Turnout 41,039 65.63 -3.78
Conservative hold Swing +6.9

Canadian federal election, 2006: Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia
Party Candidate Votes % Expenditures
Conservative Steven Fletcher 20,791 46.98 $71,903.92
Liberal John Loewen 16,099 36.37 $68,104.46
New Democratic Dennis Kshyk 5,669 12.81 $1,977.65
Green Mike Johannson 1,700 3.84 $397.50
Total valid votes 44,259 100.00
Total rejected ballots 157
Turnout 44,416 69.93
Electors on the lists 63,517
Sources: Official Results, Elections Canada and Financial Returns, Elections Canada.

Manitoba general election, 2003: Fort Whyte
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
     Progressive Conservative John Loewen 4,960 52.71 −9.02 $13,693.53
New Democratic Janine Ballingall Scotten 2,647 28.13 +1.31 $18,368.88
Liberal Gerry Sankar 1,803 19.16 +7.71 $14,257.51
Total valid votes 9,410 99.75
Rejected and declined votes 24
Turnout 9,434 56.61 −19.72
Electors on the lists 16,664

Manitoba general election, 1999: Fort Whyte
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
     Progressive Conservative John Loewen 6,480 61.73 $25,444.88
New Democratic Bidhu Jha 2,815 26.82 $24,511.00
Liberal Malli Aulakh 1,202 11.45 $18,808.08
Total valid votes 10,497 99.38
Rejected and declined votes 66
Turnout 10,563 76.33
Registered voters 13,838

All electoral information is taken from Elections Canada and Elections Manitoba. Provincial expenditures refer to candidate expenses. Italicized expenditures refer to submitted totals, and are presented when the final reviewed totals are not available.


  1. ^ "MLA Biographies - Living". Legislative Assembly of Manitoba. Retrieved July 18, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Winnipeg South". Canada Votes 2008. CBC News. 
  3. ^ a b "Cheque-less future city firm's goal". Winnipeg Free Press. September 7, 2011. 
  4. ^ "CIBC becomes leading supplier of payroll services", Canada NewsWire, 25 January 1993.
  5. ^ Martin Cash, "Comcheq flourishes on a long leash", Winnipeg Free Press, 11 March 1994.
  6. ^ "Leadership hope gone up in smoke", Winnipeg Free Press, 15 February 2002, A4.
  7. ^ Ashley Prest, "Katz loses some of his thunder", Winnipeg Free Press, 25 March 1994.
  8. ^ Kelly Taylor, "Share the glory", Winnipeg Free Press, 23 April 1994.
  9. ^ David Roberts, "Consortium wants to buy Jets", Globe and Mail, 27 August 1994, A14.
  10. ^ John Douglas, "'Demands outrageous', Loewen says", Winnipeg Free Press, 28 April 1995, City Page. Bettman denied this, claiming that advance notice had been given and that his conditions were necessary for creating a stable franchise. See Mary Ormsby, "Winnipeg group not serious, Bettman says", Winnipeg Free Press, 3 May 1995, C3.
  11. ^ Adam Clayton, "Winnipeg Jets long gone but not forgotten", Canadian Press, 27 April 2006, 13:50 report.
  12. ^ Kim Guttormson, "Thompson decides she won't seek third term in mayor's office", Winnipeg Free Press, 25 April 1998, A1.
  13. ^ "Telpay". Techvibes. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  14. ^ "Tory eyes on NDP", Winnipeg Free Press, 23 October 1999, A5.
  15. ^ "Possible contenders", Winnipeg Free Press, 5 November 1999, A2.
  16. ^ Helen Fallding, "Joe Clark - the $1,000 man Conservatives feast on Alliance follies", Winnipeg Free Press, 18 May 2001, A1.
  17. ^ Helen Fallding, "Limited gay rights bill passes second reading", Winnipeg Free Press, 28 June 2001, A3.
  18. ^ Helen Fallding, "Tory comes out blazing, shoots himself in foot", Winnipeg Free Press, 14 February 2002, A1.
  19. ^ Helen Fallding, "Murray flip-flops, demotes Loewen", Winnipeg Free Press, 16 February 2002, A1; Murray McNeill, "Loewen dodges the bullet", Winnipeg Free Press, 8 May 2002, B3. Loewen's apology prevented a defamation suit from Crocus.
  20. ^ "Murray had chance to be a hero over Crocus", Winnipeg Free Press, 1 June 2005, A15.
  21. ^ Frances Russell, "Government cannot evade blame in Crocus affair", Winnipeg Free Press, 7 March 2007, A11.
  22. ^ Mia Rabson, "Phase out most VLTs, Tory urges", Winnipeg Free Press, 28 November 2003, A3.
  23. ^ Michelle MacAfee, "Federal Tory MP prepares to fight Liberal opponent plucked from his own ranks", Canadian Press, 23 September 2005, 16:40 report.
  24. ^ Carol Sanders, "Candidates can't be assured of votes from ethnic groups", Winnipeg Free Press, 22 January 2006.
  25. ^ Leah Janzen, "Alcock loss jolts Liberals, but Keeper keeps it even", Winnipeg Free Press, 24 January 2006, B3.
  26. ^ "Low on cash, but hopeful", Winnipeg Free Press, 7 March 2006, B5; "TelPay Incorporated", Globe and Mail, 14 August 2007, B3.

Some biographical information is taken from Loewen's website.