09/25/2014 04:59 EDT | Updated 09/25/2014 05:59 EDT

David Chen, Man Who Inspired 'Lucky Moose Bill,' Backs John Tory Over Olivia Chow

CP/The Globe and Mail

John Tory has won the endorsement of a man who once received plenty of high-profile help from Olivia Chow.

On Thursday, Tory announced that David Chen, a Toronto Chinatown grocer who was acquitted in 2010 of forcible confinement and assault for performing a controversial citizen's arrest on a shoplifter, is backing his campaign.

"John Tory is the person our city needs," Chen said in a statement released by Tory's campaign. "I am supporting John Tory to be the next Mayor of Toronto."

In the media release, Tory called Chen a "great example of the impact that one good person doing good things can have on our great city."

Tory also took to Twitter to celebrate the endorsement.

The announcement may come as a surprise to some and could be seen as a sign of trouble for Chow, who polls suggest has slipped in recent months to third place behind Tory and Doug Ford.

Chow was an early and vocal supporter of Chen, who was arrested in 2009 after he chased down a serial thief from his Lucky Moose Food Mart, tied him up and kept him in a van until police arrived. The incident sparked a larger discussion across Canada about how far citizens can go to protect their property.

Chow, then a member of Parliament for Trinity-Spadina, led the way with a private member's bill — dubbed the "Lucky Moose bill" — which sought to loosen the laws surrounding citizen's arrests. The Harper government ran with Chow's idea and passed bill C-26, which came into effect last year, allowing citizen's arrests to be made within a "reasonable time" after a crime is committed.

According to The Toronto Star, when Chen was acquitted, Chow acted as his interpreter at a news conference.

Throughout her mayoral campaign, Chow has referenced her work with Tory minister Jason Kenney on the "Lucky Moose bill" as an example of how she can get things done.

Chow reminded her Twitter followers of her work on the issue just two weeks ago.

But Chen told The Globe and Mail Thursday that while he was asked to endorse Chow, he feels Tory is better suited to deal with issues he cares most about, including traffic in Chinatown and garbage collection.

He also told The Globe it was "not only Olivia Chow" who gave him support after his arrest.

Toronto voters head to the polls on Oct. 27.


Photo gallery Olivia Chow Through The Years See Gallery