Prominent St. John's businessman Dean MacDonald has thrown his support behind Cathy Bennett as his choice for the next leader of the Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal party.

MacDonald said Bennett was a longtime friend and colleague in the province's business community, and he was in favour of her support of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.

"Cathy's stand on Muskrat is one I endorse," said MacDonald Tuesday afternoon.

At a Liberal leadership debate in Gander on Aug. 22, Bennett was the only candidate to throw her support behind the hydroelectric development.

She spent the bulk of that event defending her stance against other leadership hopefuls Danny Dumaresque, Paul Antle, Jim Bennett and Dwight Ball, all of whom have reservations about the megaproject.

MacDonald, who has been courted by the party to run for the top job, said last November that he was not interested in the leadership position at this time.

However, he did say on Tuesday that he would be happy to help Bennett with fundraising and policy development.

Bennett welcomes MacDonald support

Meanwhile, Cathy Bennett said she was "excited" to hear of MacDonald's endorsement.


Provincial Liberal leadership candidate Cathy Bennett says her team is excited by MacDonald's endorsement. (CBC )

"Dean's certainly a well-known businessperson, a lifelong Liberal, and a good friend," said Bennett. 

"I'm really glad to see that Dean sees my skills and abilities in a way that serves the province well."

Bennett said she would continue to be vocal for her support for Muskrat Falls, despite opposition to the development amongst some provincial Liberals.

"I've never been shy of defending something I believe in."