I was shocked to learn that a 15-year-old high school student known as `Mafiaboy,’ the alleged suburban Montréal-area cyber hacker who was charged recently with jamming CNN web sites, has announced that he is challenging Joe Clark for the federal Tory leadership.

Mafiaboy, readers may recall, shut down in February some of the world’s most popular Internet sites, costing the operators hundreds of millions of dollars and untold inconvenience for many.

Unfortunately for our readers, under the Young Offenders Act we cannot reveal the real name of the boy. A federal court judge has allowed him to use the name he calls himself – Mafiaboy – in his campaign to wrest the leadership of the federal Tories from Joe Clark. During his campaign the judge has also ruled that no pictures can be used of Mafiaboy or his parents or his older brother, close friends, neighbours or his dog.

Mafiaboy, in an exclusive interview recently with The Interim, agreed that it has made it difficult for him to campaign against Joe Clark for the Tory leadership. Mafiaboy has been described by friends as “very intelligent” and popular.

Asked why he had chosen a career in politics, Mafiaboy said that the school guidance counsellor, after giving him a number of tests, determined that he was devious, secretive and had an inability to differentiate between honesty and dishonesty and suggested that politics would be ideal for him. Mafiaboy said that he joined the Conservative Party because they took a strong but wavering position on both sides of every issue.

When he was asked what his parents thought of his going into politics, he said: “I don’t know. I’ve been so busy hacking on my computer – I haven’t seen them for the past couple of months.”

The 15-year-old high student who is out on bail, charged with “mischief in relation to interfering with data,” is also carrying a heavy high school schedule. This allows him only after-school time to campaign and to raise the three million dollars over the Internet that he feels is necessary for his leadership campaign chest.

Mafiaboy smilingly admits it’s an uphill struggle, but he feels that if Canada’s first prime minister was a drunk, why can’t a cyber-hacker become the prime minister?

If convicted of these pending charges, Mafiaboy says he will choose to take “home confinement” rather than going to a youth detention centre. He feels that a youth detention centre is nothing but a fun-farm and would not be challenging enough.

Mafiaboy has already made an offer to pay off the hundreds of millions of dollars that he has cost the Internet operators out of his eight dollars weekly allowance. He says he hasn’t heard from them.

Brimming with confidence, he agrees that there are thousands of hackers and cyber-terrorists out there and he feels that the majority will vote for him rather than Joe Clark. He says he’ll beat Joe hands down.

He adds that his campaign slogan is: “Only a cyber-terrorist knows how to beat cyber-terrorism.” Mafiaboy resents being called a “low-level copycat” and says he’s sophisticated enough to hack with the best of them. He says that he’s capable of routing traffic through China, Taiwan, Russia and even Afghanistan.

Since the federal judge has allowed him full use of his computers during his election campaign, Mafiaboy vows to conduct a vigorous campaign, and he warns that Joe Clark had better sleep with his computer. “Clark isn’t ‘yesterday’s man’ – he’s circa 1900!” he says.

In another Interim exclusive, Joe Clark expressed gratitude that he has such a well known personality as Mafiaboy running against him for the Tory leadership. “Look what all those leadership hopefuls have done for the Alliance campaign.” said Clark. “They have breathed life into a dead horse called Reform.”

“If Mafiaboy can put me on the front page of every newspaper and on every talk show in Canada I’m willing to resign as federal leader of the Tory party right now and run for the leadership. If I can’t beat a cyber-hacker any day I’ll go back to lawn bowling. Come to think of it – I’ve had trouble getting on the Internet since Mafiaboy announced he was running against me.