'A difficult time'

Two federal cabinet ministers and a key B.C. MP parried questions Monday morning in Victoria about the scandal surrounding their government.

It's all in hand.

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Former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould is a respected colleague.

She's going through a difficult time.

So are we.

Official processes are in the works.

So let's talk about what we're here for (delivering $5.23 million to fight gun and gang violence).

A few minutes later, things got much worse.

It is emphatically not in hand.

A "difficult time" doesn't begin to describe the situation.

The official processes can't keep up with the fallout.

So let's keep talking about a scandal that is riveting the country even more this week than when it transfixed the nation last week.

Jane Philpott's resignation as head of treasury board on several points of principle over Wilson-Raybould's treatment turns the dial well past the boiling point on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government.

The "we're doing business as usual" approach just doesn't cut it.

Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair and National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan did the best they could with that line at a legislature news conference a few minutes before Philpott quit.

Asked about Wilson-Raybould's future in the federal Liberal caucus, Blair said he had the privilege of working with her for several years and had "enormous respect for her and the work she has done." He said there would be full consideration of all matters before any decisions are made.

Sajjan said it was important that Wilson-Raybould be allowed to speak (which she did emphatically to the justice committee last week), and more chances will come.

He made the mildest attempt possible to counter her stance. Wilson-Raybould is standing on the position that she was inappropriately pressured to make a prosecution decision about SNC-Lavalin for political reasons relating to potential job losses.

Sajjan said it was important to note that the federal Liberal government "will always stand up for jobs across the country," while at the same time respecting due process.

Then he started deflecting away from the drama, just moments before it got even more dramatic.

"People elected us to focus on issues. We're here to continue to work for our constituents... Today's announcement is just another example of that."

Federal Liberal MP Gordon Hogg was also on hand. Interviewed after Philpott's resignation landed, he stressed the processes in place to get the government through this crisis.

He is much closer to Wilson-Raybould than the two cabinet ministers are. Unlike cabinet meetings, she still attends meetings of the B.C. caucus, which Hogg chairs.

He said she contributes and is "bright, talented and engaging."

"She's going through a difficult time now, as we all are, trying to get to the information we all need. There are so much subjective assumptions going around now, so many things that are not based on facts."

He said there is still lots of due process to go through.

The ethics commissioner has launched an investigation into the matter and the justice committee that heard the former attorney general still has to report.

"There's certainly a lot of uncertainty at this point, but I expect that going through that process we'll have complete information we need and the information the prime minister needs to make a good, well-informed decision."

Hogg said the processes now in play that weren't there in the beginning will produce good results.

Speaking for 18 Liberal MPs from B.C. -- including the woman at the centre of the storm -- Hogg said: "We've had meetings and the message I'm giving you is the message that we have -- we want to make sure we have -- all the information necessary to make a good decision on this, and we don't have that information yet."

But Philpott was in exactly that position, as well.

And she decided the processes weren't going to produce anything that would ease her profound ethical concerns about how Wilson-Raybould was treated.

So she quit.

Every Liberal MP today is nervously wondering how many of their respected, talented and engaging colleagues are on the verge of reaching the same conclusion.

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