WOLFVILLE, N.S. -- It didn't take Prime Minister Justin Trudeau long to get a chuckle from a crowd of Liberal partisans in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley Thursday, following an intense day in which Canada responded to U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminium.

"It's been a busy day," a relaxed Trudeau said to laughter from the dozens of supporters who attended a party fundraiser at a winery near the university town of Wolfville, N.S.

"You all know what it's like when you have discussions with the neighbour about something. But we have been standing up for Canada as you all know."

Trudeau then joked about actions that will see Canada retaliate dollar-for-dollar against a 25 per cent tariff on steel and a 10 per cent tariff on aluminium.

"We are polite as Canadians but we are also firm. When push comes to shove we know how to use our elbows in the corners on the hockey rink, so you draw on what you do, but this is an opportunity to remind people how important it is to stand together," he said.

Trudeau spoke for just over 15 minutes before dozens of supporters and party luminaries including federal Treasury Board president Scott Brison, along with Nova Scotia provincial cabinet ministers Keith Colwell, Iain Rankin, Zach Churchill and Kelly Regan.

The prime minister took the opportunity to thank workers for their support and told them he believes there is a sense that people are working together not just in the Atlantic region, but across Canada.

Returning to a theme he pitched during the national Liberal convention held in Halifax in April, Trudeau urged those gathered to continue working to let people know what the Liberals have been doing while in power.

He said it's important to "stay involved in building a better country."

"The one thing we are discovering about democracy is that we can't take it for granted," said Trudeau.

Following the speech, Trudeau circulated in the room taking pictures with supporters.

He is scheduled to speak Friday before a conference of big city mayors in Halifax before heading to Quebec next week for a meeting of the G7.

In a news release, the federal Liberal Party said it was committed to openness and transparency, and a list of guests at the event would be available within 45 days.

The party said these events are hosted in publicly accessible spaces, and it has also committed to facilitating media coverage.