Donald Cameron (Nova Scotia premier)

Donald William Cameron (May 20, 1946 – May 3, 2021) was a Canadian politician who served as the 22nd premier of Nova Scotia from February 1991 to June 1993. He represented the electoral district of Pictou East in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly from 1974 to 1993, as a member of the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia.[1] Following his political career, he was appointed the Canadian Consul General to New England.[2]

Donald Cameron
22nd Premier of Nova Scotia
In office
February 26, 1991 – June 11, 1993
MonarchElizabeth II
Lieutenant GovernorLloyd Crouse
Preceded byRoger Bacon
Succeeded byJohn Savage
MLA for Pictou East
In office
April 2, 1974 – May 25, 1993
Preceded byA. Lloyd MacDonald
Succeeded byWayne Fraser
Personal details
Born(1946-05-20)May 20, 1946
Egerton, Nova Scotia
DiedMay 3, 2021(2021-05-03) (aged 74)
Political partyProgressive Conservative
EducationMcGill University (B.S.)

Early life and educationEdit

Cameron was born in Egerton, Nova Scotia, on May 20, 1946.[3] His parents were Helen and William David Cameron,[4] and he was raised on their family farm. He graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1968.[5][6]

Political careerEdit

Cameron entered provincial politics in the 1974 election, defeating Liberal Lester MacLellan by 272 votes in the Pictou East riding.[7] He was re-elected in the 1978 election by almost 2,000 votes.[8] On October 5, 1978, Cameron was appointed to the Executive Council of Nova Scotia as Minister of Fisheries and Minister of Recreation.[9] He resigned from cabinet on June 25, 1980.[6][10] He was re-elected in the 1981[11] and 1984 elections.[12] On April 20, 1988, Cameron was reappointed to cabinet as Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.[13] Cameron was re-elected in the 1988 election, defeating Liberal Wayne Fraser by 753 votes.[14]

In September 1990, John Buchanan resigned as premier,[15] and a leadership convention was scheduled for February 1991.[16] On November 2, 1990, Cameron announced his candidacy for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia.[17][18] At the leadership convention, on February 9, 1991, Cameron led through the first two ballots and defeated Roland J. Thornhill by 143 votes on the third ballot to win the leadership.[19][20] He was sworn in as the 22nd premier of Nova Scotia on February 26.[21]

Premier of Nova ScotiaEdit

Cameron's administration was known for a smaller cabinet, supporting anti-discrimination measures, and amending the human rights act to extend protection to gays and lesbians.[5] His government also privatized Nova Scotia Power Incorporated,[22] the largest privatization move in Canada at the time. Cameron also introduced merit-based hiring codes, signed on to the Atlantic Procurement Agreement and introduced mandatory testing in grades 3, 6, 9 and 12 with public release of test scores. Cameron's government established a nonpartisan electoral boundaries revision commission in an attempt to end gerrymandering.[23]

Cameron began the practice of non-political appointment of judges, deregulation of gasoline prices and made investments in double-stack rail service from the Port of Halifax (benefitting the TrentonWorks rail car plant in his riding) as well as four-lane highways.[24] His efforts in ending party patronage marked a change in politics in Nova Scotia that his successors – John Savage and John Hamm – were able to continue, making appointments more transparent.[25]

Cameron was noted as a vocal supporter of a development project that turned deadly. He was instrumental, first as a local MLA, then as industry minister in the government of John Buchanan, and then as premier, in the development of the Westray Mine in Pictou County, Nova Scotia.[26][27] Many expressed concern in the provincial media for the safety of workers in such a mine. While coal mining typically releases explosive methane gas, the location of the mine was in an area of Pictou County that had an unusually high level of methane. However, despite the opposition from federal bureaucrats, opposition politicians and the Cape Breton Development Corporation (Devco), a federal crown agency responsible for coal mining in Cape Breton, Westray Mine was developed through the late eighties and opened in 1991 with significant provincial and federal government assistance. Subsequently, a methane gas explosion killed 26 miners on May 9, 1992.[26][27]

Cameron's government is also remembered for continuing the Buchanan policy in supporting development of the controversial Point Aconi Generating Station project.[28]

In the 1993 election, Cameron won personal re-election in his Pictou East riding,[29] but his government was defeated in a landslide by the Nova Scotia Liberal Party under John Savage.[30] On election night, Cameron announced his resignation as both party leader and MLA for Pictou East.[31]

Personal lifeEdit

Cameron married Rosemary Simpson in 1969.[5] They met while studying at McGill.[32] Together, they had three children: Natalie, David, and Christine.[5]

Cameron died on May 3, 2021, at the age of 74.[5]


  1. ^ "Electoral History for Pictou East" (PDF). Nova Scotia Legislative Library. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  2. ^ "Cameron, Mulroney friend receive patronage posts". The Globe and Mail. June 25, 1993. ProQuest 385287102.
  3. ^ "Donald William Cameron | The Canadian Encyclopedia". Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  4. ^ "Guide Parlementaire Canadien". 1993.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Former Nova Scotia premier Donald Cameron dead at 74". CBC News. The Canadian Press. May 3, 2021. Retrieved May 3, 2021.
  6. ^ a b Elliott, Shirley B. (1984). The Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia, 1758–1983: a biographical directory. Public Archives of Nova Scotia. p. 28. ISBN 0-88871-050-X. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  7. ^ "Returns of General Election for the House of Assembly 1974" (PDF). Elections Nova Scotia. 1974. p. 105. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  8. ^ "Returns of General Election for the House of Assembly 1978" (PDF). Elections Nova Scotia. 1978. p. 105. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  9. ^ "Buchanan's Tory cabinet takes over in Nova Scotia". The Globe and Mail. October 6, 1978. ProQuest 1238404515.
  10. ^ "New Nova Scotia premier vows fight on patronage". Toronto Star. February 10, 1991. ProQuest 753289149.
  11. ^ "Returns of General Election for the House of Assembly 1981" (PDF). Elections Nova Scotia. 1981. p. 108. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 10, 2014. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  12. ^ "Returns of General Election for the House of Assembly 1984" (PDF). Elections Nova Scotia. 1984. p. 113. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 5, 2013. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  13. ^ "Buchanan names two to N.S. Cabinet posts". The Globe and Mail. April 21, 1988. ProQuest 385955694.
  14. ^ "Returns of General Election for the House of Assembly 1988" (PDF). Elections Nova Scotia. 1988. p. 117. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 12, 2014. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  15. ^ "Buchanan resigns to enter Senate". The Globe and Mail. September 13, 1990. ProQuest 385572178.
  16. ^ "Tories post leadership race rules". The Chronicle Herald. October 10, 1990. ProQuest 345234492.
  17. ^ "Cameron throws hat into ring: Pictou East MLA first cabinet minister to bid for PC leadership". The Chronicle Herald. November 3, 1990. ProQuest 345238235.
  18. ^ "Nova Scotia hopefuls aim for clean image". The Globe and Mail. November 8, 1990. ProQuest 385596544.
  19. ^ "N.S. premier chosen in a cliff-hanger". Toronto Star. February 10, 1991. ProQuest 436342366.
  20. ^ "Cameron elected leader by Nova Scotia Tories". The Globe and Mail. February 11, 1991. ProQuest 1151104117.
  21. ^ "Woman appointed to leaner N.S. cabinet". Toronto Star. February 26, 1991. ProQuest 436350452.
  22. ^ "N.S. to sell off electrical utility". The Globe and Mail. January 10, 1992. ProQuest 1151525185.
  23. ^ "New look for N.S. electoral map". The Globe and Mail. March 7, 1992. ProQuest 385473106.
  24. ^ "Hansard Transcript – Assembly 56, Session 2". Nova Scotia House of Assembly. December 14, 1994. Retrieved May 3, 2021.
  25. ^ Kukucha, Christopher J. (July 1, 2009). The Provinces and Canadian Foreign Trade Policy. University of British Columbia Press. p. 64. ISBN 9780774858564.
  26. ^ a b DeMont, John (June 10, 1996). "Passing the Westray buck". Maclean's. Toronto. Retrieved May 3, 2021.
  27. ^ a b Richard, K. Peter (1997). Consolidated Findings. Westray Mine Public Inquiry. Government of Nova Scotia. ISBN 0-88871-468-8. Retrieved May 3, 2021.
  28. ^ Dyck, Perry Rand (1991). Provincial Politics in Canada. Prentice-Hall Canada. p. 146. ISBN 9780137216062.
  29. ^ "Returns of General Election for the House of Assembly 1993" (PDF). Elections Nova Scotia. 1993. p. 132. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 6, 2014. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  30. ^ "Liberal landslide". The Chronicle Herald. May 26, 1993. Archived from the original on August 30, 2000. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  31. ^ "Cameron stuns supporters". The Chronicle Herald. May 26, 1993. Archived from the original on August 30, 2000. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  32. ^ "Donald Cameron". Dalhousie University. Retrieved May 3, 2021.