Four years after Nova Scotia elected its first NDP government, voters are about to get the chance to pass judgement on its performance.

NDP Leader Darrell Dexter asked Lt.-Gov. J.J. Grant to dissolve the House of Assembly. That sets in motion, a provincial election for Tuesday, Oct. 8.

"I encourage all Nova Scotians to exercise their democratic right to vote, so they have a voice in the legislature," said Dexter. 

Dexter campaigned Saturday in Cape Breton. He met with Grant at a hotel in Sydney, N.S.

During his announcement, Dexter took aim at the Liberals who continue to hold a commanding lead over the NDPs with 41 per cent popular support according to the latest quarterly poll from Corporate Research Associates released Wednesday.

Among decided voters, the poll gives the Liberals 41 per cent popular support followed by the New Democrats at 31 per cent. The Progressive Conservatives are at 25 per cent.

The gap between the Liberals and the New Democrats, led by Premier Darrell Dexter, has lessened from previous polls.

"This election is about whether Nova Scotians will risk turning back to the Liberals or building a better future for today's families with the NDP," said Dexter.

"Stephen McNeil was a candidate for the government that closed 1,600 hospital beds, got rid of thousands of nurses and teachers, stopped paving roads and never once balanced a budget. The NDP has made some mistakes as we gained experience. But the NDP is opening hospital beds and keeping emergency rooms open. We've built 1,000 long-term care beds so far. We're investing to protect and attract good jobs, all while balancing the budget."

At a Liberal rally in Halifax Saturday, McNeil was ready with a counter attack aimed at the NDPs generosity to big business.

"Unfortunately, the NDP is out of touch from realities of life in our province. They have chosen corporate interests over the interests of Nova Scotians. As a result the day-to-day concerns have been neglected," he said.

McNeil promised to put people, not business at the top of his priority list as premier.

PC Leader Jamie Baillie staged a more low key launch in a Halifax shoe store Saturday. He took aim at both the Liberal and NDP parties, suggesting a bleak future for Nova Scotians if the PCs are not elected to lead the province.

"The decision Nova Scotians make will determine what kind of future our children will inherit," he said.

"We can leave behind a Nova Scotia that looks like Detroit and Greece — a ruined economy with no hope for a brighter future for tomorrow — that is the track that we are on now. Or we can give our children a Nova Scotia where they can make a life for themselves and families here at home in the future."

At dissolution, the NDP held 31 seats in the legislature, the Liberals 12, and the Progressive Conservative Party, seven.

Two seats were vacant.

The election will be fought on a new electoral map that cuts the number of seats in the legislature to 51 from 52.