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United States ambassador to Canada David Jacobson addresses the Canadian American Business Council in this file photo.Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

The uncertainty over who will lead the U.S. Department of State should have no impact on the timing of a decision on TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone XL pipeline, the U.S. Ambassador to Canada says.

"I don't think it will have any impact," David Jacobson told reporters Friday on the sidelines of a Calgary conference hosted by the Economic Club of Canada.

The decision on the controversial pipeline, which would carry Alberta and northern U.S. crude oil to the Gulf Coast, is expected in the first quarter of next year.

"That is the most recent public statement from State Department and I have no reason to change it," Mr. Jacobson said.

He also emphasized that the U.S. is, on principle, interested in maintaining clear trade corridors between Canada and the U.S.

"My country has a long history of keeping doors open to our friends, and there is no country in the world that is a closer friend to the United States than Canada," he said.

Every effort "by this administration has been to increase our movement back and forth across the border to draw our two countries closer together, not further apart. And I see no reason why that trajectory is going to change."

He emphasized: "What we haven't done, and what we do not intend to do, is to close doors."

Mr. Jacobson cautioned that his comments should not be interpreted as directly related to Keystone XL. But he suggested that the presidential agenda will, for some time to come, be largely consumed with matters outside of a pipeline – one that will draw cheaper crude into the United States, where refined petroleum products are now the single most valuable export product.

Financial matters, and the so-called fiscal cliff, are "going to colour our politics for the next several years," he said. He reiterated earlier comments suggesting that the single most important thing the U.S. can do for Canada – more important than approving Keystone XL or lowering obstacles at the border – is to get its economic house in order.

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