Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 8/4/2009 (4669 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Along with a constitutional monarchy and the observance of the Boxing Day holiday Canada and Australia share another common denominator -- outlaw bike gangs.
Canada's Gerald Gallant, alleged to be the country's most prolific serial killer, has admitted to gunning down several bikies during battles between the Hells Angels and Rock Machines gang in drug related turf wars between 1994 and 2002.
International news reports back in Australia suggest violent bikies have long been a problem in Quebec, with author Julian Sher quoted as suggesting bikie-related murders in Canada actually rivalled the killings during Al Capone reign in Chicago.
The news has resonance down under as Australia is gripped by one of its periodic fits of moral outrage over bikie gangs which last month allowed their internal feuding to spill over into the arrival lounge of the Sydney Airport.
The Hells Angles and Comancheros went into battle in front of terrified passengers, seizing metal bollards used to separate people at the check-in counters and using them as weapons of mass destruction.
Sobbing bystanders told on the evening news of watching a man beaten to death during the brawl as bikies allegedly caved in the victim's head with their improvised weapons during the brawl, which raged for about 15 minutes.
The violence followed a gradual escalation of tension since Feb. 3 when the front of the Hell's Angels clubhouse in Sydney was blown apart while shots were fired at a near by tattoo parlour.
From there things got worse:
Feb. 27: Three members of the Nomads gang are shot outside their Sydney club house.
March 19: A woman alleged to be associated with the "Notorious'' bikie gang is charged after two drive-by shootings in Sydney.
March 21: Seven Sydney homes are sprayed with bullets is a series of drive-by shootings.
March 22: The violence culminates with Anthony Zervas, 29, being bludgeoned to death with the metal bollards at the Sydney Airport.
Last week, police found a homemade bomb in a plastic bag outside a senior Bandidos bikie's Sydney home.
All up, it's not something a nation heavily reliant on the international tourism dollar wants on its brochures, and it was enough to produce a national outcry.
The issue of the bikies has slithered around the Australian sub conscious ever since Marlon Brando roared onto the big screen on that Triumph Thunderbird 6T in the Wild One in 1953, transforming the motorcycle from a cheap, relatively uncomfortable from of transportation into a statement of criminal intent.
As Australians followed the post war generations of Americans onto the open road and formed themselves into packs the word "bikie'' entered the language.
And in Australia it is bikie -- not biker as in America and Canada. It's a slightly more affectionate term, perhaps reflecting the tolerance many Australians had for the original boys (and they were all boys) in provincial towns who roared around on their old Nortons and BSAs and occasionally got into brawls on the football oval but who never intended much harm.
In the 21st century the Nortons and BSAs are replaced by expensive Harley-Davidsons and the world of the bikie with its connections to organized drug distribution has taken on a sinister edge, prompting at least one state government to outlaw them.
New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees said the brawl in the Sydney Airport that occurred on his watch showed an iron fist was needed.
"The bikie gangs crossed the line,'' he said, of the airport attack.
Rees' new laws would allow police to seek a court order to make membership of a listed bikie gang illegal.
Those who continue to gather in their club houses or on the road in the face of the new legislation face up to five years in jail.
Police will also be able to seize assets and search homes of suspected gang members, who could be banned from working in a range of industries from security services to pawn broking.
Civil rights campaigners point to a conflict with the right of freedom of association in a healthy democracy.
Barrister Malcolm Ramage told the respected ABC current affairs program Lateline that the new laws were an appalling attack on civil liberties.
"It's astonishing that it went through the Lower House without a long and arduous and adequate debate,'' he said.
But bikies will find no champion in Australian politicians who are jumping over themselves to join in the attack.
New South Wales Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell didn't just support the new laws, he appeared to relish them.
"I would have no problem if you put all the gang members in two rooms and allowed them to shoot themselves to death,'' O'Farrell told state parliament.
"I would have no problem with that at all.''
Michael Madigan is the Winnipeg Free Press correspondent in Aurtarlia. He writes about politics for the Brisbane based Courier Mail.