Nova Scotia’s democracy celebration kicked off yesterday with a flag raising at the province’s “cathedral of democracy.”

“It is to remind Canadians that democracy came from Nova Scotia,” said co-chair of Democracy 250 John Hamm, a former premier at the Nova Scotia legislature yesterday. “We certainly believe that it’s something that every Nova Scotian should be proud of.”

The week — aimed at celebrating the 250th anniversary of parliamentary democracy in Canada — involves events focused on young people, including visits to schools, a trivia challenge, mock trial and open house at Halifax provincial court.

Premier Rodney MacDonald said the province chipped in about $900,000, going toward promotional T-shirts, toques and tins of mints.

And the price tag is expected to grow. Some reports have pegged the amount as high as $9 million if Canadian Heritage accepts a proposal that would raise the profile of the event to a national level.

MacDonald said the province will likely spend more money on the event when the federal government approves the group’s request.

MacDonald defended spending taxpayers’ money on such an event, saying it’s important to mark the province’s historical contribution and raise awareness about the importance of voting among young people.

Hamm said the opportunity only comes around every 50 years and it shouldn’t be wasted.

“I’m not prepared to downplay the importance of this, and to take on something of this magnitude does take public funding,” Hamm said.

“We’ll be careful with the dollars. We’ll make sure that we get full value out of every dollar of the taxpayers’ money. We did that in government and I’ll do that with my co-chair of Democracy 250.”

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