Former Nova Scotia premier John Savage, whose four-year mandate was marked by political change and protest, has died.

Nova Scotians are divided over the legacy of his Liberal government, which lasted from 1993 to 1997.

Supporters of the doctor-turned-politician, who came to politics late in life, say Savage's legacy includes province-wide ambulance service and ending patronage and government overspending.

But his detractors say he slashed services and forced municipalities to merge.

Not long after he learned he was dying of cancer, Savage admitted in an interview that he was not an astute politician.

"I did the things I thought were right and perhaps that was not always the right political approach," he said.

After leaving politics, he returned to medicine and travelled to Africa, Russia and Europe teaching sex education and helping to set up clinics.

Prime Minister Jean Chrtien expressed his condolences Tuesday, describing Savage as a good premier and a good friend.