Mantat, Mantat, Mantat...
Don't shoot Brady's hopes down. Maya is a powerful tool for animation. If he cares to learn it I say go for it! They have plenty of visual tutorials online, built-in to the *free Personal Learning Edition of Maya (yes you heard right Brady, you can learn Maya FREE), and even cheap DVDs you can buy that will have a teacher instruct you on Maya all the way. Also, depending where you live, schools like Sheridan College teach courses in Maya. I used to take Soft Image and Maya at this school called Applied Multimedia, but their Calgary, Regina, and Winnipeg schools all went bankrupt.
Brady, if you're going with a Mac product for Maya, it is recommended that you use a machine with a G5 and atleast a Gig of RAM. That machine would be woefully out of your price range. So if I were you, I would go the route of a Windows machine, simply because you'll be able to get a higher-end Pentium 4, with the amount of RAM you need, most likely a generic model for around $900-1,200 Cdn.
Attack it this way.. What do you have a larger background or knowledge of? Apple or Windows computers? What does your budget allow? What machine would fit the needed requirments to run said application?
As much as Apple computers are much more reliable and attractive looking when compared to pretty much every Windows machine out there, it may best serve you to go the route of the Windows machine. You can get a pretty good machine for what you're willing to pay. Maya is also more widely used on Windows computers, so take note of that. Although, with time, that may change.