Prior to his election to Parliament (Liberal caucus), Stephen Owen was the David Lam professor of law and public policy and director of the Institute for Dispute Resolution at the University of Victoria; a commissioner and vice president of the Law Commission of Canada; the deputy attorney general of British Columbia; BC's commissioner of resources and environment and its ombudsman; the executive director of the Legal Services Society of British Columbia; and a practicing lawyer.
Owen's career path changed dramatically when he was asked to run for Parliament. He was first elected in November 2000, and he was re-elected in June 2004 and January 2006\. In government, Owen served as parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Justice, secretary of state for Indian Affairs and Northern Development, minister of public works and government services and receiver general for Canada, minister of Western economic diversification, and minister of sport. Stephen Owen resigned his seat on 27 July 2007 and accepted a position at the University of British Columbia.
From 2007-2012, Stephen Owen was the vice president of external, legal and community relations at the University of British Columbia. His responsibilities included government relations, University legal counsel, public affairs and communications, University community engagement, the Robson Square Campus, the Learning Exchange, and the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Stephen Owen has advised numerous governments and international institutions in North, Central and South America, Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe on issues of human rights, governance, conflict resolution, and environmental sustainability. He has investigated security force killings in apartheid South Africa, Northern Ireland, Gibraltar, Somalia, Kosovo, and Cambodia. He was awarded the John Tait Award of Excellence in Public Law in 2001 by the Canadian Bar Association. Stephen Owen earned a JD from the University of British Columbia, an LLM from the University of London, and an MBA from the University of Geneva.