Mason aims to shake up municipal politics

Former music man Waye Mason brings his municipal punditry to Halifax regional council

As far as city councillors go, Waye Mason is ready to rock.

A music nerd at heart, the local entrepreneur has made a name for himself in Halifax as the owner of No Records, leader of the Halifax Pop Explosion and the head of Nova Scotia Community College’s Music Business Program for the past five years.

“Teaching was kind of a natural evolution,” he says. “It made sense to go and help young musicians and industry workers who wanted to be promoters or managers not make the same mistakes the rest of us did.”

Now it seems he’s ready to focus his efforts on fixing the city of Halifax.

On Oct. 20, Mason was elected city councillor of District 7: Peninsula South-Downtown. With a campaign emphasizing transparency, sustainability and responsible budgeting, Mason looks ready to take his success in the music industry and apply it to the world of politics.

But outside of music, Mason has always been interested in the political landscape.

He originally came to Dalhousie University in the early ’90s in the hopes of becoming a political science teacher.

As his career in the music industry grew, he started municipal politics blog halifaxpolitics.ca, critiquing city council’s exploits in his spare time.

But his role in local politics exploded in 2011, when news broke that an event promoter had received unauthorized cash advances from the city.

The ensuing concert scandal allowed Mason to shed light on Halifax’s shortcomings through national interviews and published opinion pieces.

“HRM as a city needs to stop lying to itself and lying to the public that it is doing anything,” he says. “We’ve been talking about the same issues my entire life.”

As city councillor, Mason says he hopes to help make Halifax the centre of independent music in Canada and foster its already vibrant artistic community.

Kris McCann, executive director of the Halifax Pop Explosion, says Mason’s community conscious approach is the perfect fit for a role in municipal politics.

“Waye isn’t a career politician,” he says. “I believe that he honestly just wants to improve things in the city that we love.”

Matt Charlton, a communications expert who previously taught in the community college’s music business program, says whether it’s the local music scene or local politics, Mason is committed.

“He’s an ideas man in the best sense of the word,” he says, “in that he’ll actually follow through on those ideas.”

So for now, he’s focused on city council and putting his career at the college on hold – even if it means taking home a smaller paycheque.

“I know some councillors have full-time jobs,” he says, “but I think it’s really important that the councillor is available during office hours.”