06/23/2017 17:12 EDT | Updated 06/23/2017 22:10 EDT

Trudeau Reminded The New York Times Of Those Times He Was Shirtless

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There was one particular "waitaminute" moment during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's panel discussion with the New York Times in Toronto on Thursday, and it involved a him cracking a joke about taking off his shirt and running behind some teenagers.

When asked if a photo of him running through a group of students milling about on Vancouver's Seawall before prom last month was staged, Trudeau replied with a firm, "No."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, centre, sits alongside Peter Baker, chief White House correspondent of the New York Times, right, and Catherine Porter, Toronto bureau chief for The New York Times, during a panel discussion in Toronto on June 22, 2017.

"I travel with my EA [executive assistant] and photographer and a few other people. They're both runners, too," he said, adding that his photographer, Adam Scotti, "doesn't mind running with a camera on."

Trudeau has routinely been photographed by Scotti, running in Ottawa, Washington D.C., Strasbourg, and Paris. It's an ongoing series, he said.

The story behind the grad photo is that Scotti spotted a group of students ahead and stopped.

"And I'm like, 'OK watch, I'm going to fake— take off my shirt.' That actually wasn't in any of the pictures series, but there's a first picture I don't think he got of me saying, 'Yeah I'll take off my shirt to be in the background.' Cause it was a thing," Trudeau said.

The "thing" Trudeau made reference to was when a photo of the prime minister posing shirtless with a youngster in Gatineau Park last summer made headlines around the world. The PM also accidentally photobombed a Tofino beach wedding last August while shirtless, wearing an unzipped wetsuit.

Evidently, Scotti wasn't so into Trudeau's meta-level of self-deprecating world leader humour.

"And he shook his head. And then I ran through it," Trudeau said. "And he snapped the picture."

He used the photo as "one of those things that just happens."

It was a moment of levity that broke up discussion about Donald Trump, NAFTA, and sabre rattling with the United States.

"I do things. I'm an active person. I like people," Trudeau said. "I will stop for selfies. I feel that opportunities to connect in a way that is true to me with people are helpful and that's an example of it."