Pacific Lutheran University (Bachelor of Arts, 1973). Universitetet i Oslo, Oslo, Norway (Examen Philosophicum, 1972). University of British Columbia (Bachelor of Laws, 1977).
A former lawyer with the Saskatchewan law firm Macpherson Leslie and Tyerman, he was first elected in the 1995 provincial election. He was admitted to the British Columbia bar in 1978 and to the Saskatchewan bar in 1979. He was appointed as Minister of Justice and Attorney General on November 22, 1995, Minister of Crown Investments Corporation on September 30, 1999, Minister of Health on February 7, 2001, where he was Saskatchewan"s longest serving health minister and then Minister of Environment on February 3, 2006.\r\nIn the wake of the NDP"s loss in the 2011 election and the resignation of leader Dwain Lingenfelter, Nilson, who was re-elected, was declared interim leader of the party.
He was succeeded by Cam Broten in the leadership election on March 9, 2013.
He is the member of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan for the Regina Lakeview constituency, representing the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party.