E. Louise Logan, Class of 1996, saw the potential of public policy to ignite positive social change before even attending her first class at UBC’s law school. “The power of the law and the power of public policy to both cause harm and to ameliorate” not only inspired Louise to law attend school, it has also motivated her two-decade career in public policy.
Louise grew up in Oakville, Ontario. She attended the University of Toronto, where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English and History. After finishing her undergraduate degree, Louise worked at regulatory college for nurses. During this time, the regulatory framework for healthcare professions was undergoing a major legislative review in Ontario. Louise had the opportunity to work alongside government counsel on the Regulated Health Professions Act –legislation that still governs regulated healthcare professions in Ontario today.
Inspired by this experience and encouraged by her manager at the time, Louise applied to UBC’s law school. Louise recalls her orientation to law school and how excited she was to be in a new city meeting new people. She remembers sitting amongst her new classmates in the quad outside the old law building talking about the philosophical meaning of property. At that moment, Louise realized that law school was going to be about “learning how to learn” and new ways to think, and she was excited by the power of developing these skills. During her third year, Louise completed an independent project with Professor Christine Boyle. When Professor Boyle asked Louise where she saw herself after law school, Louise was confident in her answer – after being exposed to a broad selection of law courses, her passion for public policy endured.
After graduating from the LLB program in 1996, Louise joined WorkSafeBC as a policy analyst. She would later become a director general of policy and regulation development, and then the vice president and chief review officer at WorkSafeBC.
In the early 2000s, the laws surrounding smoking in the workplace were drastically changing in BC. Louise recalls how the President of WorkSafeBC at the time, an engineer who she views as her earliest and most influential mentor, used the tool of public policy in a unique and creative way to address the risks of smoking in the workplace. Because environmental tobacco smoke was a known carcinogen at the time and no safe exposure level could be accurately established, WorkSafeBC had the authority create regulations to control it. After a successful court challenge to the newly introduced regulations, new regulations were drafted and Louise was appointed Chair of Public Hearings on Environmental Tobacco Smoke. Louise recalls the controversy at the time. She remarks on how significantly social attitudes towards smoking have shifted in the past 15 years. After the regulations were successfully imposed in BC, there was a snowball effect across the country.
Now, when looking back at the evolution in Canadians’ perception of accepting risks and behaviours that were once the norm, Louise looks forward to an area that she predicts will follow a similar pattern – concussions.
Louise became involved in preventable injuries as the inaugural President and CEO at Parachute, a role she played from 2012 – 2016. Parachute is a national charity that aims to create awareness and change attitudes towards preventable injuries. It was formed as a result of the merger of four smaller charities. Louise credits her legal training for her ability to lead the merger process. Her legal education taught her “how to approach problems and questions and not be afraid of them.”
In 2013, following the death of Rowan Stringer, high school rugby player who died from a secondary impact concussion during a high school game, Rowan’s parents began a movement for concussion safety laws. In 2016, Louise was appointed to the Minister’s Advisory Committee for Rowan’s Law which developed a series of recommendations resulting in Rowan's Law (Concussion Safety), 2018. Rowan’s Law is the first of its kind in Canada, and Louise hopes this will spark the creation of concussion safety laws across the country.
Through her experiences, Louise has developed an interest in public policy in the international context. She is currently working on a large international project with the International Labour Organization and International Social Security Association. As the National Director for the World Congress on Safety and Health at Work, Louise sits on the international organizing committee and works with stakeholders across Canada and 150 participating countries.
Louise advises that current law students “find the things not just that interest you, but that excite you.” This doesn’t only apply to topics, but also to methods and environments of working. Additionally, she advises that women in law find a community that values and supports them. Finally, Louise encourages students to make the most of their time at law school, as you will carry the lessons you learn and the strong connections you make during those three years, through your career and the rest of your life.
Louise Logan was interviewed in August 2018 for the Allard School of Law Oral History Project. For more, listen to her Oral History Project interview.