10/30/2014 01:49 EDT | Updated 12/30/2014 05:59 EST

Comic Colbert toasts Canada's gun-packing parliamentary sergeant-at-arms

WASHINGTON - He's been called "Canada's New National Hero" by the Washington Post. He's made the front page of the Wall Street Journal.

Now the sergeant-at-arms of Canada's House of Commons has received perhaps an even rarer celebrity distinction in the United States: praise from a late-night TV comedian.

Stephen Colbert, better known for his roasting than his toasting, dedicated an entire segment of Wednesday night's Colbert Report show to a tribute of Kevin Vickers, whose intervention helped end last week's Ottawa shooting.

He began the segment with a photo of Vickers carrying the mace — which the tongue-in-cheek TV newsman described to viewers as a giant ceremonial baby rattle.

The show then cut to a CBC clip describing, in the final moments of the confrontation, how Vickers launched himself upside-down towards the ground, firing upward and fatally striking shooter Michael Zehaf Bibeau.

"To hell with Bruce Willis," Colbert said, of the signature line from the movie "Die Hard": "Our neighbour to the north just put the 'Eh' in Yippee-ki-yay."

The segment then showed the scene in Parliament the day after the shooting. Vickers was seen remaining stone-faced amid a rousing ovation from members in the Commons.

"Look at that magnificent bastard," Colbert said, applauding Vickers for what he called a stoic, humble response.

"Folks, I have not been this moved by something Canadian since the return of Degrassi. And I cannot believe I am saying this, but I was wrong about Canada. I have said some awful things about you over the years."

Indeed, mocking Canada has been a staple of Colbert shtick. Just a few months ago, he joked that President Barack Obama should invade Saskatchewan to get a boost in the polls.

On Wednesday, however, Colbert appeared to undergo a momentary conversion.

"Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, I'm going to do the most Canadian thing I can imagine and say: 'I'm sorry.'" He then said, "Sorry," again — this time, with a mock Canadian accent.

And then, with his crowd cheering, he stood up and sang Canada's national anthem — to the tune of Frank Sinatra's "The Way You Look Tonight."