The House of Assembly, is the legislative branch of the provincial government of Nova Scotia, The Assembly is the oldest in Canada, having first sat in 1758 and in 1848 was the site of the first responsible government in colonies of the British Empire.
Originally (in 1758), the Legislature consisted of the Governor (later a Lieutenant Governor), the appointed Council (upper chamber) (which met in the Red Chamber shown on the left and now used for committee meetings and social functions) and the elected House of Assembly (lower chamber), shown at the bottom. 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, Liberal Party of Nova Scotia, the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia, and Nova Scotia New Democratic Party. The Assembly meets in Province House, a National Historic Site and Canada’s oldest and smallest legislative building. It is located in Halifax. 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. The building is ornately decorated with, among other things, plaster British falcons. Several have been missing their heads since the 1840s. At that time, a Member of the House, Laurence O’Connor Doyle, went on a rampage, knocking the heads off with his cane upon hearing that a dispute between the United States and New Brunswick had been ruled in favour of the Americans. He had mistakenly assumed them to be eagles. At the moment, the Liberal Party is the Government holding 33 of the 51 seats, the Progressive Conservative Party holds 11, the New Democratic Party holds 7 seats.