(CNN)In a speech largely focusing on the need for shared economic priorities between Canada and the US, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made it clear that his nation would not be cowed -- or "moused" -- out of representing its own interests.
Trudeau: 'Canada is no mouse. More like a moose'
"Canada is a confident, creative, resourceful and resource-rich nation. We are a wealthy and influential country by world standards. But we are also a country of 35 million people living next door to one roughly 10 times our size and the world's only superpower," Trudeau said at the US' National Governors Association summer meeting in Providence, Rhode Island on Friday.
"My father, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, once compared this to sleeping next to an elephant," he told the gathering of US state governors. "While you, my American friends, may be an elephant, Canada is no mouse. More like a moose -- strong and peaceable but still massively outweighed."
While emphasizing the long and friendly history between Canada and the US, the prime minister explained that his country is renewing its engagement in the bilateral relationship.
"This is another truth about good neighbors: sometimes we take each other for granted. Sometimes the very dependability and ease of a relationship can lead to us paying too little attention, he said. "We in Canada decided we would not allow that to happen to our relationship with the United States of America."
Trudeau added that the interests of Canada -- fighting against climate change, shared defense, job creation and a commitment to the North American Free Trade Agreement -- are also beneficial to the interests of the US.
"Free trade has worked, it's working now," he said, adding that he has relayed a similar message to President Donald Trump, who has frequently voiced his opposition to the trade agreement. Trudeau urged the leaders to avoid taking "politically tempting shortcuts" of economic protectionism.
"If anything, we'd like a thinner border for trade, not a thicker one," Trudeau said, arguing that trade restrictions could lead down a slippery slope that could cause economic harm for both nations.
"The relationship between our countries is historic. It is a model to the world," Trudeau said. "We must get this right."