John T. Nilson was born in Saskatoon and raised in western Canada. John obtained his education at Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Washington, University of Oslo, Norway, and St. Olaf College in Minnesota, prior to obtaining his law degree from the University of British Columbia in 1977. He was admitted to the Bar in British Columbia in 1978 and in Saskatchewan in 1979. He practiced law and mediation with MacPherson, Leslie & Tyerman from 1978 until he was elected as MLA for the Regina Lakeview Constituency in June, 1995 and re-elected in 1999, 2003, 2007, and 2011.
John was first appointed to cabinet as Minister of Justice and Attorney General in November, 1995 and has also served in several portfolios including Crown Investments Corporation, Health, and Environment. In 2007 he served as opposition critic for Intergovernmental Affairs and served as interim Leader of the Official Opposition from 2011 to March 9, 2013.
He and his wife, Linda, have two daughters, Ingrid and Solveig. They live in Regina Lakeview, near the Legislature, and farm north of Parkbeg.