When Premier Christy Clark first unveiled the five conditions she insisted be met for any pipeline expansion in her province to occur, the move was greeted with eye-rolling skepticism.
Pipelines, after all, fell under federal jurisdiction, not provincial. And a provincial authority had never before imposed such prerequisites on this type of enterprise. It wasn't surprising that the Alberta premier at the time, Alison Redford, reacted angrily over Ms. Clark's audacity, throwing the pair's budding relationship into a deep freeze.
Of all the provisos that the B.C. Premier was insisting on – which included areas such as indigenous consultation and world-class marine and overland spill response measures – the one that garnered the most attention was the last. It stated that the province would need to reap some financial benefits from the project in exchange for the environmental risk it would be assuming.
This made Ms. Redford and her Alberta government even more livid. There weren't many in the oil and gas industry who gave B.C. much of a chance of collecting on that rider either.
This week, Ms. Clark once again proved her doubters wrong, announcing a deal with Kinder Morgan that will see the province collect as much as $1-billion over the next 20 years. No wonder the Premier was beaming as she disclosed details of the pact.
It was the kind of deal of which Donald Trump would be proud.
To be clear, there is no precedent for this. Kinder Morgan could have accused the province of extortion and walked away – which would have infuriated Alberta, and possibly Ottawa, and ramped up pressure on Ms. Clark to back off in the name of national unity.
But it didn't. Ultimately, it made more sense for the company to throw some money on the table rather than trying to fight the edict via the courts or through diplomatic back channels.
Regardless, this gives Ms. Clark a huge win, one it's difficult imagining her not trying to capitalize on during the coming provincial election.
Although the Premier has said it is not her job to champion the pipeline – she has insisted it was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's decision and ultimately his responsibility to sell it to British Columbians – her government's approval of it makes it as much her project as the federal government's. Attempting to distance herself from it will be impossible – the provincial NDP will make sure of that.
She likely knows that too.
That is why she will highlight her five conditions and the rather remarkable financial transaction she reached with Kinder Morgan as an example of her uncompromising principles and superior bargaining skills. Whether the public buys it is another matter.
There is still a great deal of opposition in B.C. toward the pipeline. Most of the support for it resides in the Interior and rural parts of the province. Disapproval is centred in Metro Vancouver. And then there is a group in the middle who can see both sides of the issue – these are the voters Ms. Clark hopes to impress and persuade with her Kinder Morgan agreement.
While he opposes the pipeline, and has vowed to stop it if elected, NDP Leader John Horgan does not believe the election will turn on this matter like it did in 2013 when then party leader Adrian Dix stunned just about everyone by coming out against Kinder Morgan after saying he was going to wait to see the company's full proposal before passing judgment.
Ms. Clark jumped on the flip-flop and the rest is history.
"This is an issue that you are talking about, and a clutch of people are talking about, but not the people I talk to," Mr. Horgan told me recently.
"The vote-determining issue for them is not pipelines but how are they going to make ends meet, how they are falling further behind, what they are going to do about their aging parents. That's what the regular folks I talk to are concerned about."
If Mr. Horgan didn't want to make Kinder Morgan the central talking point of this spring's campaign before, he is likely even less inclined to do so now in the wake of Ms. Clark's bargaining-table home run.
For the Premier, it is called making the best of a bad situation. One she may no longer be so reluctant to talk about.