A former top Conservative cabinet minister says it's time for Canada to look beyond the Obama era if it wants to push economic integration with the United States to a new level.

Jim Prentice says that includes pushing for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, which has been stalled by the logjam of U.S. domestic politics — something he says probably won't change in the next three years.

Jim Prentice 20110928

Former top Conservative cabinet minister Jim Prentice says it's time for Canada to look beyond the Obama era if it wants to push economic integration with the United States to a new level. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Prentice says new gas discoveries in both countries have transformed North America's economic landscape, and the federal government should set its sights on 2017 when Barack Obama's successor arrives in the White House.

Prentice, now a senior bank executive, offers that prescription in a speech to the Economic Club of Canada today in Ottawa.

Prentice, a former environment and industry minister, left politics more than three years ago but has at times been touted as a possible successor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Harper and Obama meet face to face next week in Mexico, at a one-day summit of North America's three leaders.