KINGSTON, Ont. — Prime Minister Stephen Harper celebrated the 200th anniversary of Canada’s founding father — Sir John A. Macdonald — by stating so much good came from what he called an ordinary man of whom little was expected.

Under tight security at Kingston City Hall in eastern Ontario, Harper told a crowd of dignitaries that what you do is more important than where you come from or who you know.

It was a decidedly non-partisan event — with former Liberal prime minister John Turner and Progressive Conservative Kim Campbell in attendance — but Harper’s comments dovetailed with his Conservative party election message this year that Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is unready to govern despite his high-profile name.

Harper praised Macdonald’s vision and leadership while acknowledging his well-known history as a heavy drinker, saying Sir John A. was acutely aware of his own humanity.

The prime minister is expected to call a vote by next October’s fixed election date, and his every appearance now appears groomed to that goal.

Harper did not make himself available to the large media contingent on hand for the event and did not take questions from reporters.