Sunday, January 23, 2011

THE APPLE IN THE BARREL / Part 428 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

It's a well known phrase, but is it true? “One rotten apple spoils the whole barrel.”

Well yes ultimately, it is a truism. In time, a rotten apple in a barrel of good apples will infect them with rottenness. The science of mold spores invading the other apples and corrupting them makes this a dictum which has application to other groupings of people as well as fruit.

We observe this truth enacted in the real life of daily news. For instance, Edmonton RCMP officer Tirth Sehmbi was charged in summer 2010 with murdering his wife Rajpinder Sehmbi. The evidence appears conclusive and the decision must still be rendered but according to our analogy, if he is guilty, he would be classified as the bad apple. If left long enough, that is, if something so serious as murder would be overlooked by his peers, the entire detachment would become corrupt. But my point today is to say, that this has not happened. It does not need to be assumed that it will happen. When the good apples of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, arrested Sehmbi and investigated him, it was with the intention of administering justice by removing the infection from their midst.

According to a CityNews story, Steve Ellis, an immigration judge and former city councillor was convicted of breach of trust in April 2010 and also convicted on an Immigration and Refugee Protection Act bribery charge because he offered citizenship to a Korean woman in exchange for sex. One bad apple in the Ontario judiciary system does not mean all judges are similarly bad, but if other judges ignored his action, they would eventually themselves forgive their own indiscretions and spoil the quality of law. My point is to say that this possibility has not occurred because the good judges still stand for what is good, ethical, right and lawful. So they purge the barrel.

Journalist Jennifer Moreau wrote the article 'Burnaby teacher convicted of sex offence handed lifetime teaching ban' for the Burnaby Now on October 27, 2010. She reported that the B.C. College of Teachers barred a female teacher from ever teaching again in B.C. and the report in sent throughout North America. She was convicted of sexual exploitation involving a St. Thomas More Collegiate student and sentenced to several months in jail. The bad apple again, but certainly what we read is the determination of good apples not to allow their student population or teaching staff to be contaminated.

What I am writing today is a caution against the unwholesome and dispiriting tendency I repeatedly read in the remarks of some injured and discouraged and overwhelmed commenters. That tendency is to easily assume that when something bad occurs in a foster home, all foster care is evil. Or, when a social worker submits a baseless and even falsified report about parents, all social workers are wicked. Or, when a judge makes a decision with which you disagree, all judges are corrupt. Is it fair to be suspicious of an entire profession because of a few bad apples?

The exaggerated and unreasonable response may serve as a vent but it neither calms the writer's own emotions nor steers the writer toward a desirable resolution. I am as you can see, well aware of the presence of some bad apples. I am by no means willing to concede that everyone in public positions of responsibility and authority is infected with rottenness and only you and I stand as whole and untouched apples. That is ludicrous and unproductive.

Yet, it is a concern to me that when one segment of one of our social systems repeatedly screws up or makes bad choices and poor decisions, and repeated examples of mismanagement surface, the decay is widespread enough that in order to get legislators and politicians to listen, the Press must be told all of your stories and they must fully disclose what is happening.


  1. You're right. We went through years of struggles in an effort to have my niece returned to her mother's care. Finally, our lawyer told us to 'pray for a new social worker'. Miraculously, we got a new social worker in the next month and events immediately began to turn. The new social worker reviewed the case and was appalled at what she read in the file, so slowly she began to implement steps to restore my niece to her mother and within months she was home. We are truly grateful for the work of that one worker. But I know of others - in fact, I know of one who risked her own job to go to the supervisor and defend the mother as a good parent, not seeing any base to the continued removal. Yet another contacted the mother some time later on a personal level to see how things were going. Thank you to each of these wonderful people.

  2. "in order to get legislators and politicians to listen, the Press must be told all of your stories and they must fully disclose what is happening".
    I take the liberty to copy Evil Eye's comment from today's post at the excellent
    Get your Head out of the Clouds!
    "We have the most corrupt political government in Canada and in provincial history. In fact it is a government that is on the take. The foul odor of this government has tainted the mainstream media to such a point it has become largely irrelevant".

  3. Well Josef, I did look up your reference to the post titled, 'Get Your Head out of the Clouds' and I have to thank you for quoting only one of Evil Eye's mild statements. The writer is surprisingly bold with his criticisms of public figures.

  4. Good evening Ron! Let's readers decide if any criticism and action is required or not, after learning the facts and logical conclusions. Thousands of British Columbians are very grateful for the quantity and quality of information posted on Internet by caring people like Grant or you. I am and I thank them all.

  5. One commenter a couple of days ago mentioned her NDP MLA making promises of raising awareness in Legislature if a sufficient number of signatures were acquired from parents and caregivers who have been victimized by MCFD. The MLA indicated that these names would not be divulged. While I agreed that this sounded like a promising idea, I expressed an initial impression that so many parents will not want to sign their names if they are presently involved with the MCFD and are concerned what release of their name could do to influence their case. A couple of commenters took immediate exception and voiced that people must speak up, give their names and tell their stories. Well, I guess they will make that decision themselves. What I can say is that I have allowed people to tell their stories here among comments and many chosen to remain anonymous. My firm hope is that we can get enough public news sources talking about this kind of mismanagement that telling stories with names in a major news scrum or media presentation will force Victoria to take seriously the many complaints within our BC communities.


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