A statue honouring Canada’s first prime minister was vandalized Friday -- the very day that would have marked Sir John A. Macdonald’s 198th birthday.

The statue in Kingston, Ont., was defaced with red paint and the words "murderer" and "colonizer" were scrawled across its base. The words "this is stolen land" were also written on the monument.

The vandal appears to be informed on Canadian history, with the damage occurring on Sir John A. Macdonald Day -- the same day Heritage Minister James Moore is scheduled to appear in Kingston for an event honouring Macdonald in his hometown.

In fact, Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a statement Friday morning praising Canada's first prime minister and "founding father."

"Sir John A. Macdonald, in partnership with George-Étienne Cartier, George Brown, Thomas D'Arcy McGee, Sir Charles Tupper and other great Canadians, provided the vision and drive that created a trans-continental country," Harper said.

"As a child immigrant, he arrived in a Canada that was largely confined to the territories that bordered the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes. As a result of his efforts, by the time he died in 1891, Canada extended across the entire North American continent and included the Atlantic provinces, the prairies, as well as British Columbia."

Harper said Macdonald's success was largely due to his efforts to create national institutions such as the federal Parliament, the transcontinental railroad and the Northwest Mounted Police, which later became the RCMP.

It isn't clear whether there is any connection between the vandalism and the current tension between the federal government and First Nations leaders, who are demanding a renewed relationship with Ottawa.