Government of Nova Scotia

The Government of Nova Scotia refers to the provincial government of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. Its powers and structure are set out in the Constitution Act, 1867.

In modern Canadian use, the term "government" refers broadly to the cabinet of the day, elected from the Nova Scotia House of Assembly and the non-political staff within each provincial department or agency – that is, the civil service.

The Province of Nova Scotia is governed by a unicameral legislature, the Nova Scotia House of Assembly, which operates in the Westminster system of government. The political party that wins the largest number of seats in the legislature normally forms the government, and the party's leader becomes premier of the province, i.e., the head of the government.

The Nova Scotia Legislature, consisting of the lieutenant governor and the House of Assembly (see description below), is the legislative branch of the provincial government of Nova Scotia, Canada. The assembly is the oldest in Canada, having first sat in 1758, and in 1848 was the site of the first responsible government in a colony of the British Empire.

Originally (in 1758), the legislature consisted of the governor (later a lieutenant governor), the appointed Nova Scotia Council (upper chamber) (which met in the Red Chamber, now used for committee meetings and social functions) and the elected House of Assembly (lower chamber). The council had both executive and legislative functions. In 1838, the council was replaced by an executive council with the executive function and a legislative council with the upper chamber legislative function. In 1928, the legislative council was abolished.

There are 51 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) representing 51 electoral districts. Members nearly always represent one of the three main political parties of the province, the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Liberal Party, and Nova Scotia New Democratic Party.

The assembly meets in Province House. Located in Halifax Province House is a National Historic Site and Canada's oldest and smallest legislative building. It opened on February 11, 1819. The building was also the original home to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, and the location of the "Freedom of the Press" trial of Joseph Howe. Its main entrance is found on Hollis Street in Halifax.

As with the federal government, there are three branches of government in Nova Scotia: the Legislature, the Courts (Judicial branch), and the Executive branch.

The Legislature

The Legislature consists of the Lieutenant Governor and an elected legislative assembly called the House of Assembly.

The 51 Members of the House of Assembly (MLAs) are elected by voters in electoral districts. While an election can be called at any time, no elected assembly may sit for more than five years. The House must normally meet at least twice a year.

The House of Assembly’s main functions are to:

  • consider, enact, amend, and repeal legislation
  • debate policies put forward by the Executive Council
  • authorize spending, taxing, and borrowing by the provincial government.

The presiding officer of the House of Assembly is the Speaker, who maintains order, regulates debate, and ensures that all viewpoints are heard. The Speaker does not take part in the debates and votes only if there is a tie. Outside the Chamber, the Speaker is the only representative of the House and the sole embodiment of its prestige and authority. The Speaker has jurisdiction over all matters concerning Province House and is the Chair of the Legislature Internal Economy Board, the body responsible for regulating services to Members.

Click this link for a list of MLAs.

Premier of Nova Scotia

The Premier of Nova Scotia is the first minister for the Canadian province of Nova Scotia who presides over the Executive Council of Nova Scotia. Following the Westminster system, the premier is normally the leader of the political party which has the most seats in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly who is called upon by the Lieutenant Governor to form a government. As the province's head of government and de facto chief executive, the premier exercises considerable power.

Follow this link NS Premier’s web site.

Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia

The functions of the Sovereign, Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, and known in Nova Scotia as the Queen in Right of Nova Scotia, are exercised by the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia. The Lieutenant Governor is appointed by the Governor General of Canada on the recommendation of the Prime Minister of Canada, in consultation with the Premier of Nova Scotia.

The Lieutenant Governor calls the House of Assembly into session and prorogues and dissolves the House of Assembly. The Lieutenant Governor and the Executive Council together form the Government of Nova Scotia, the executive branch of government. The Lieutenant Governor also:

  • reads the Speech from the Throne at the opening of the Session of the Legislature;
  • gives Royal Assent (approval) to legislation;
  • signs Orders-in-Council, the recorded decisions of the Executive Council; and
  • appoints Members of the Executive Council on the advice of the Premier.

The Lieutenant Governor also has a number of ceremonial duties, including:

  • receiving representatives of other governments and institutions
  • signing official documents such as proclamations

The Lieutenant Governor is responsible for ensuring that there is always a government in place. As with the Governor General, the Lieutenant Governor technically has the power to dismiss a government for unlawful or unconstitutional actions and can refuse a decision of the Executive Council if it is in the public interest to do so. However, the royal representative rarely uses this power to upset the affairs of an elected government, and the Crown’s presence is more ceremonial in nature.

If the Lieutenant Governor is absent from the Province, the Chief Justice of Nova Scotia takes his or her place and is referred to as the Administrator of the Government of the Province of Nova Scotia.

Click this link for more information about the Lieutenant Governor.

Next : The Executive Branch