Last Wednesday, I woke up to a disappointing message about the federal byelection in Labrador. Not that Yvonne Jones won - she's an able campaigner and had the lead pretty much throughout the campaign.
No, I was discouraged by the fact that anyone voted for the former minister after Penashue was forced to quit for quite broad-based electoral financing violations; after federal cabinet member Peter MacKay told voters Penashue would go back into cabinet if elected; and after the clear takeaway message from the campaign became "vote for our guy or you'll get nothing," that anyone voted for the former minister.
And 3,922 people actually did cast votes for Penashue, despite the bad behaviour of his past campaign and the implicit and explicit strong-arming by his current campaign.
It made me wonder just what a candidate - or a government - would have to do in this country in order to get roundly, completely slapped down by the electorate.
Because this isn't just threats and financial blackmail. The idea of voting for the gimmies despite their behaviour clearly extends throughout our system of government so much that it's talked about publicly by other elected officials.
"I'm certainly not going to blame anybody for exercising their franchise and making decisions that they feel are in their best interests," Premier Kathy Dunderdale told reporters - but she also said "It always makes it more difficult when you don't have somebody inside the tent."
But Dunderdale had already said - when Penashue claimed quite proudly to have held up projects on the island until he got joint federal-provincial funding for road work in his own riding - that she wouldn't accept that kind of behaviour in her own cabinet.
"You cannot have that view and be at the cabinet table. You cannot," she said on CBC's "On Point" during the campaign.
So, even if his behaviour is not acceptable, we should hold our nose for that important spot inside the cabinet?
I don't think so.
Should we acquiesce to the blackmail involved with being told that we have to vote a certain way in order to be treated fairly?
Should we bend over backwards to stuff ourselves "into the tent" or should we tell our federal government that, if threats and unfairness are going to be the order of the day, we're going to have a different government?
Think about it this way: if every single seat in this province had voted Conservative-blue in the last election, would we suddenly believe it was an acceptable practice to put ridings in this province first and punish ridings in other parts of Canada for picking an opposition member to represent them? Of course we wouldn't.
The government of Canada governs Canada. It doesn't benefit those who supported it and punish those who didn't.
Holding your nose because of a dangling cabinet seat essentially means that, as voters, we now accept that the end justifies the means.
Cheat to get into the House of Commons? That's OK if we get a cabinet seat. Fraudulent robocalls, funding violations, missing money - what tactics wouldn't be allowable under those circumstances?
The longer we continue to subscribe to the idea that we should vote for personal gain, the more entrenched the idea will become that government is all about personal gain.
If our highest ideal is greed, what kind of standard are we showing to those we elected?
How can we condemn the venality of the Mike Duffys of the world if our voting is more swayed by local benefits than by honesty, accountability and clear ideals.
You reap what you sow. If you sow handfuls of greed, don't be surprised when big, leafy stalks of it sprout up all the way to Parliament Hill.
And Penashue? If his vote-count had completely vapourized, we might have actually sent a message on ethics to a government that seems to view them as optional.
Russell Wangersky is The Telegram's editorial page editor. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.