Nova Scotia·Q&A

Max Taylor doesn't care if you vote for him — but you'd better vote

Three candidates are running to be mayor of the Halifax Regional Municipality: Matt Whitman, Mike Savage and Max Taylor. CBC spoke to all three candidates about who they are, and why they're running. The interviews have been edited for length and clarity. This one is with Max Taylor. 

Halifax TikTok star and mayoral candidate shares some tips for the 'old dudes and old gals' struggling online

Max Taylor is one of three candidates for mayor in the Halifax Regional Municipality. (Robert Short/CBC)

Three candidates are running to be mayor of the Halifax Regional Municipality: Matt Whitman, Mike Savage and Max Taylor. CBC spoke to all three candidates about who they are, and why they're running. The interviews have been edited for length and clarity. This one is with Max Taylor. 

Q. You've worked for Halifax before, but if you win the election, it would likely come as a surprise to many Halifax residents. What prepares you to run such a large city? 

Right now, we need to demand power from the provincial government. Because I have no friends in politics, because I have no previous ties, I'm not afraid to say things that need to be said, I'm not afraid to demand power.

Small-business owners can know that I have their best interests at heart. I had a small business called University Ice Cream. I really wanted it to be a fun thing. I wanted to get started in April, but because of all the red tape issues, I couldn't get started until late June. It was definitely a pain in the ass to do that.

There are so many gaps in the bureaucracy that make it hard to make any change to your own small business. It ended up being a kind of stressful experience. 

I worked for Parks and Recreation in Halifax for two years. I got to know the ins and outs of that department. In that job, you drove around the city all day. Literally, I went to every single district throughout the summer, two years in a row. I got to know people.

Q. You've said you would see an increase in voter turnout as a win for you. What difference do you think it makes if 30 per cent of citizens vote for the winner, or 60 per cent?

Here's the truth: if you don't vote when you're 18, you're probably not going to vote in the next election. If you don't vote when you're 18, you're probably not going to care in general. I want to inspire the next generation to get involved with municipal politics.

If the federal government went away tomorrow, you'd notice in two weeks. If the municipal government went away tomorrow, you'd notice immediately — you'd notice when garbage stopped getting picked up, you'd notice when buses stopped running, you'd notice when schools didn't open. 

If voter turnout increases, I think we'll start seeing more people getting involved at the municipal level, which can make the city great. 

Q. There's been a lot of focus in recent years on the importance of diversity in politics. How do you, as a white man, ensure you hear and represent the voices of minorities, women, newcomers — the broad range of citizens?

Hopefully, in the next election, a lot more people run for councillor because they understand: I can be a business owner and run, I don't have to be a politician; I can be working at a convenience store and run, I don't have to be a politician. If I want to make change, I can make change. 

Hopefully, me running will show somebody there's an opportunity for more diversity, but nobody really takes it now. It's the same people, over and over, that run. 

I'm always willing to admit that I'm wrong, I'm always willing to look at perspectives that aren't my own. When we're facing the really important issues around race, around equality for sexual preferences, equality for everything, I'm willing to reach out to these groups that are directly affected. 

Q. You've learned how to get attention through your online presence. How does that way of connecting with people transfer to the political world?

I learned how to respond to criticism appropriately. I don't respond with any negativity. I take in the criticism and think, What can we do with this? 

Politics, especially at this level, you have to read the criticism, you have to understand the criticism. Because within a lot of these criticisms are little gold nuggets you can pick up. It's taught me to be humble. 

Q. How can politicians talk online without seeming stilted or fake?

You can't use it that much. You can use it a few times a day, but if you spend hours and hours a day on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, you will start to make videos that you think people will want to see. You have to reach out to people in a way that's genuine to you. If you start to reach out to people in a way that's genuine to the app, it's not going to feel real. 

There's a lot of old dudes and old gals that go on these social media pages and they have no idea what's going on, because they have no idea what's going on in the entertainment sphere. So when they go on, it feels like they're incredibly out of touch. I'm not going to listen to this person who doesn't care about the things I care about, even if they're fun things.

Get involved in a little bit of pop culture. Be genuine. Don't try to impress anyone. Put out what you want to put out and people will generally respond to that pretty kindly. 

Q. You're a generation younger than either of the other candidates. What seem like obvious issues to your peers, but foreign to older people? 

A lot of times they're big issues in Halifax, but because of my age I look at them from a different perspective. 

For example, affordable housing. I'm looking at it from the perspective that I've heard personally from many different university students who say they're not going to stay in Halifax. For a lot of different people on council, it's a guess. For me, I've heard the actual testimonials. 

The environment is a massive issue. I've talked to the university groups about this and there are little changes I'd like to make. For example, if we lower the speed limit in residential areas, university streets, we can cut emissions down. 

There needs to be a landlord registry in place, because a lot of young people's complaints don't get taken seriously against a landlord. I take young people seriously and a lot of people don't. 

Pick the candidate that best suits your needs, because I can't tell you who to vote for. I don't care who you vote for — just vote.

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