A significant announcement by the prime minister worth billions to the provincial economy was overshadowed by protests at a lunchtime fundraiser.

With a federal election looming, optics are extremely important, especially for Justin Trudeau and the Liberals -- who are generally shown to be behind the Conservatives in recent polls.

Officially, the campaign hasn't started but all parties definitely have their eyes on the prize, winning the next election.

Trudeau started his day in Vancouver with a funding announcement.

Ottawa will provide billions of dollars for a new fleet of ships for the Coast Guard.

The total price tag is $15.7 billion for 18 ships, 16 of them to be built in Vancouver by Seaspan.

"This fleet renewal project will be anchored in British Columbia," said Trudeau at a press event. Adding the benefit would be to create "certainty and long term viability for the Vancouver shipbuilding industry."

It's an impressive injection of cash ahead of an election.

But what happened next with those opposing the Trans Mountain pipeline -- in many ways overshadowing his message. Skirmishes between police and protesters as well as an arrest essentially hijacking the "good news" announcement.

While those opposed to the pipeline are incredibly vocal, Stewart Prest, who is a lecturer in the political science department at Simon Fraser University, says the concern is part of a larger discussion about the environment.

"It's become a climactic battle over climate," Prest told CTV. "Within Vancouver proper there is a real groundswell of opposition that's going to be vocal and it's going to make it perhaps more difficult to hold on to liberal gains."

The Liberals did well in Metro Vancouver in the 2015 federal election. Prest adds the SNC-Lavalin affair and the treatment of Vancouver MP Jody Wilson-Raybould could also be problematic for Trudeau's brand.

Prest added at this point it looks like the federal election could be a neck and neck race.