The U.S. ambassador to Canada is asking Canadians for "patience" on the Keystone XL issue on his first Independence Day in Ottawa.
Bruce Heyman, in an interview with Hallie Cotnam on CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning, was asked about the diplomatic issue that has been dogging the Obama administration.
"Keystone is a challenge that we have," Heyman said. "It is something that we are going to have to work on together. Right now, it is in a process and a decision will be made. But we are going to move on."
'A lack of an answer is not a yes, it is not a no, it's just that we are working through this.' - Bruce Heyman, U.S. ambassador to Canada
Heyman, who started his role as ambassador in April, said Keystone XL is something Canadians and Americans take "very seriously."
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would carry bitumen from Alberta's oilsands to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.
The Canadian government, business groups and Republicans have been pressuring the Obama administration to approve the pipeline. Environmental groups have been calling on Obama to reject it, arguing the project will contribute to global warming.
"I think that people need to just have some patience here with us as we are going through this process," Heyman said. "A lack of an answer is not a yes, it is not a no, it's just that we are working through this."
In June, Heyman outlined his agenda as ambassador. He indicated priorities for his tenure will include intellectual property, the Beyond the Border deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and slashing greenhouse gas emissions.
Heyman was speaking ahead of the annual July 4 celebration at the U.S. ambassador's residence in Ottawa. More than 3,000 people are expected to attend.
"It is a party, but...parties, and eating, and being together, build relationships between people," Heyman said. "That's what is all about.... There's culinary diplomacy taking place here."
Heyman admitted the heat is on.
"I think there's a lot of pressure on a lot of people right now. I have been attending a lot of meetings," he said. "When you have over 3,000 people coming to your house, you know you have a lot of problems you want to avoid."
The ambassador's wife, Vicki Heyman, said the July 4 party is set to include traditional American picnic food. There will also be Motown music and a "collaborative culture exchange."