Loewen was raised in Elkhorn, Manitoba, and later moved to Winnipeg. His wife Shirley Loewen is a prominent figure in the Winnipeg arts community, and his nephew John Loewen is a former member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba. He was named to the Order of Canada in 1999, to the Winnipeg Citizens Hall of Fame in 2008, and to the Order of Manitoba in 2018.
Loewen is a chartered accountant. He launched the payroll cheque company Comcheq Services in 1968 on an investment of $15,000, and turned the company into a national success. Comcheq's revenue was $24 million in 1990, and it had 453 workers. Loewen was named Manitoba Executive of the Year in May 1990.
He sold the company to the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in 1992, and expressed disappointment when the CIBC sold it to an American firm in 1998. He retained control of a division called TelPay, and used this entity to secure a customer's electronic bill-paying contracts with many financial institutions including National Bank of Canada in 1999. Telpay Inc. was named "innovator of the year" by the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce in 2004, and received the Distinguished Treasury Award from the Treasury Management Association of Canada (TMAC) the following year. He spoke against bank mergers in 1998, arguing that Canadian banks were already too large and powerful.
In November 2007 he was appointed to the Canadian Payments Association Bill Payment Task Force, a committee set up to respond to complaints that bill payment processing in Canada is too slow.
On November 9, 2010 he was presented with the "Lifetime Achievement Award" by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Manitoba, "Winnipeg Free Press" 9 November 2010.
Loewen was a vocal opponent of Canada's proposed free trade deal with the United States of America in 1988. He formed the Business Council for Fair Trade, and argued that the deal would undermine Canada's sovereignty. Testifying before a parliamentary committee, he said "You're proposing a deal under which I, as a businessman, can prosper - but I must become an American to do so." Loewen supported the Liberal Party of Canada in the 1988 federal election, and appeared at a Winnipeg campaign rally with party leader John Turner. He later supported Lloyd Axworthy's aborted bid to lead the Liberal Party in 1990, and opposed plans for a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) the following year.
The Liberal Party announced its support for NAFTA in 1991. Loewen subsequently left the party, and become president of the newly formed National Party of Canada in 1992. This centre-left party supported economic nationalism, and was led by Mel Hurtig. Loewen donated $4 million for the party to run candidates in the 1993 federal election, and was himself a candidate in the riding of Winnipeg South Centre. He finished fifth against Axworthy, the Liberal candidate. The National Party did not win any seats.
The National Party suffered an internal split in 1994, with Hurtig and Loewen leading rival factions. Hurtig resigned as party leader at an acrimonious executive meeting in February 1994, but later retracted his resignation. Loewen's faction refused to recognize the retraction, and held that Kurt Loeb was the party's duly recognized interim leader. Hurtig and Loewen accused one another of undermining the party, and traded insults in the press.
The two factions went to Ontario court in March 1994, to determine which side would have access to the party's $480,000 election rebate provided by the federal government. The presiding judge determined in favour of Hurtig's faction. Loewen subsequently issued a short book entitled National Party of Canada, The First 14 Months, in which he criticized Hurtig as an autocratic leader. Hurtig subsequently defeated Loeb in an official leadership convention, at which time Loewen called for the vote to be made unanimous to demonstrate party unity. The divisions continued, however, and Hurtig resigned the leadership permanently in August 1994. The party fell apart a few weeks later.
Party members subsequently launched several legal challenges to keep the National Party, and attempted to recover $610,000 in unaccounted funds. Neither attempt appears to have been successful. He remained an opponent of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Deal throughout the 1990s. In 1999, he appeared at a panel discussion led by Paul Hellyer of the newly formed Canadian Action Party.
Loewen is a prominent financial supporter of the Winnipeg Arts Community. He donated $100,000 to the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra following government cuts in the 1990s, and served as president and chairman of its Board of Directors at different times. Loewen was given the orchestra's "Golden Baton Award" in 1998. He wrote a piece commemorating the orchestra's fiftieth anniversary in 1999, and drew attention to new music from the young Manitoba composer Glenn Buhr.
Loewen resigned from the board in June 1999, to express his displeasure over recent policy decisions. He subsequently accused the WSO leadership of financial mismanagement. He rejoined the executive in the mid-2000s, and was listed as WSO Treasurer in January 2005.
Loewen has provided extensive funding to the Pantages Playhouse Theatre, and donated one million dollars to the Manitoba Choral Association in 1998. In 1999 and 2000, he led a successful movement to turn Winnipeg's former Bank of Commerce building into a multi-use non-profit centre. The building was reopened to the public in 2002. Loewen has also been a benefactor of "Project Loophole", a group which sought to ensure that a prominent wealthy Canadian family paid its fair share of taxes. He himself rejected suggestions that Canada's richest citizens are overtaxed.
Loewen assisted Bud Ulrich in his efforts to start a Canadian Professional Hockey League in 1995.
- Murray McNeill, "Arts are serious business for generous executives", Winnipeg Free Press, 19 May 1998, Pb9.
- Glen MacKenzie, "Winkler physician becomes order's senior member", Winnipeg Free Press, 13 January 1999, A8. The article title refers to Cornelius Wiebe; Loewen's appointment is also mentioned in the same article.
- Winnipeg Free Press, 17 September 2008.
- "Twelve Named to the Order of Manitoba," Winnipeg Free Press, 14 May 2018, p. 6.
- Roger Newman, "Comcheq Opens New Head Office", Manitoba Business, Volume 7 No. 8 Section 1, p. 27.
- Don Bain, "The Sensational Six", Manitoba Business, 1 January 1990, p. 22.
- Don Bain, "Executive of the Year", Manitoba Business, 1 April 1990, p. 6.
- "CIBC set to acquire Comcheq division", Globe and Mail, 15 October 1992, B6.
- "Comcheq no more, but jobs stay here", Winnipeg Free Press, 18 March 1998, B3.
- Martin Cash, "Comcheq founder's", Winnipeg Free Press, 30 January 1999, B12.
- Geoff Kirbyson, "TelPay Inc. named innovator of the year", Winnipeg Free Press, C11.
- "TelPay Incorporated", CCNMatthews, 25 October 2005, 04:11.
- "Businessmen differ on value of bank mergers", Winnipeg Free Press, 23 October 1998, B8.
- Manfred Jager, "Loewen heads millennium group", Winnipeg Free Press, 17 September 1998, A4.
- Martin Cohn, "Full economic union with the U.S. called inevitable under free trade", Toronto Star, 15 July 1988, A10.
- "THE LIBERAL PARTY OF CANADA MEDIA ITINERARY FOR WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 1988" [press release], Canada News-Wire, 8 November 1988, 17:28.
- Madelaine Drohan, "Is free trade with Mexico a threat to Canadian business?", Globe and Mail, 9 February 1991, D1; "Loewen to run for new party", Winnipeg Free Press, 4 September 1993.
- Joan Bryden, "Hurtig's party and the party-poopers", Hamilton Spectator, 28 November 1992, A10.
- John Douglas, "Axworthy takes jab at National party's $4-million man", Winnipeg Free Press, 3 June 1993.
- "Hurtig revokes resignation", Winnipeg Free Press, 22 February 1994, A4.
- Jim Carr, "Judge to hear National party feud", Winnipeg Free Press, 4 March 1994.
- "Loewen seeks party rebate", Winnipeg Free Press, 29 March 1994.
- Bud Robertson, "Hurtig regains control", Winnipeg Free Press, 16 April 1994.
- Greg Joyce, "Loewen booklet paints Hurtig as autocrat", Winnipeg Free Press, 23 June 1994.
- R. McGunigal, Letter to the Editor, Winnipeg Free Press, 21 July 1994.
- Sylvia Strojek, "Hurtig resigns as National party leader", Associated Press, 31 August 1994.
- "National party folds amidst tears, anger", Winnipeg Free Press, 19 September 1994.
- "National Party books called into question", Globe and Mail, 8 February 1995, A3.
- Geoff Kirbyson, "Decade of free trade forces changes", Winnipeg Free Press, 31 December 1997, B6.
- Murray Campbell, "Hellyer still striving to save the nation", Globe and Mail, 16 August 1999, A1.
- "WSO attendance record", Globe and Mail, 21 September 1990, C10; "Winnipeg Symphony Turning It Around", Globe and Mail, 1 September 1993, C1.
- Morley Walker, "New Music a sure thing, WSO stresses", Winnipeg Free Press, 1 May 1998, D5.
- Bill Loewen, Letter to the Editor, Winnipeg Free Press, 9 January 1999, A15.
- Neil Naismith, "MacCormack takes over as WSO board president", Winnipeg Free Press, 2 July 1999, 6; Morley Walker, "Symphony operations out of tune: arts patron", Winnipeg Free Press, 15 October 1999, A8.
- Morley Walker, "(Not-so) secret is out: Boreyko leaving", Winnipeg Free Press, 7 January 2005, D3.
- Morley Walker, "Increased bookings make Pantages future look secure", Winnipeg Free Press, 24 September 1998, C3; "Choral foundation gets $1 million", Winnipeg Free Press, 15 October 1998, D3.
- David O'Brien, "City gives OK to redevelop key heritage building", Winnipeg Free Press, 24 February 2000, A3.
- Aldo Santin, "Gem sparkles again", Winnipeg Free Press, 4 June 2002, A10.
- Helen Fallding, "Fight for fair taxes heads into final stretch", Winnipeg Free Press, 19 February 2001, A1; Glenn Cheater, "Wpg crusader getting wide support in fight against wealthy family tax break", Canadian Press, 7 March 2001, 18:11 report. Reports indicated that the family was the Bronfmanns, but this was not officially confirmed.
- Randy Turner, "All-Canadian Dream", Winnipeg Free Press, 21 September 1995, C1.