Nova Scotia's ombudsman Dwight Bishop says in almost 10 years on the job, he's never had to take a government department to court to get co-operation, until now.  

Bishop retires on Tuesday, but leaves behind an unusual legal battle for his successor.

Court documents show that Nova Scotia’s ombudsman has asked a court of appeal to resolve a significant difference of opinion with the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture.

“There seemed to be an embedded reluctance to work with us on this case,” Bishop told CBC News.

Bishop said he wants to investigate complaints about the department when it seized hogs and poultry from a farmer back in April.

He said the agriculture department claims the ombudsman has no jurisdiction over the department or its farm inspectors enforcing the Animal Protection Act.

“In this case I don’t agree with them, I believe we do have jurisdiction and the matter needs to be looked at,” said Bishop.

More government resistance 

The retiring watchdog said in recent times he is seeing more push back from government, and that is why he wants a clear ruling on what authority he has.

“It’s a most interesting question because it involves search, it involves seizure, it involves quite a few processes so we are anxious to see what policy and processes are in place to guide these things," said Bishop.

The ombudsman's office doesn't speak about the details of its cases so there are few details about what happened, but the court documents show there are two complaints to the ombudsman.

One came from the farmer, the other a separate complaint from one of the people who was involved in the seizure.