Lana Payne will be stepping down from her role as president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour to take up her new title as the Atlantic director for new Canadian super-union, Unifor.

Unifor, a merger of the Canadian Auto Workers union and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, represents approximately 300,000 workers across the country.

Payne said moving to the new union will mean a lot of hard, but thrilling work.

"We have raised expectations a lot with the building of this new super-union, and so the next six months to a year are really going to be about showing how we can start delivering expectations, particularly around pushing back the attack that we've been seeing on workers and on workers' rights," Payne said.

According to Payne, messages from Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, that the union will be going on the attack are a direct response to the "attack on unions."

"I think there's been a sitting back, in some ways, by the labour movement, and the fight really has already been taken to us if you even consider what's been happening at the collective bargaining table, as well as the political arena," she said.

Big endorsement for Cathy Bennett

Liberal leadership hopeful Cathy Bennett got a big boost with a high profile endorsement from St. John's businessman Dean MacDonald.

According to former Liberal MP Siobhan Coady, the endorsement was not a surprise to her.

"Not only are they good colleagues — they sat on the board together of Nalcor — but I think they're business leaders together, so it didn't surprise me when Dean came out to support Cathy Bennett," Coady said.


Shawn Skinner, Siobhan Coady and Russell Wangersky were on this week's On Point panel to discuss Dean MacDonald's endorsement of Cathy Bennett for the Liberal leadership.

"I think you'll see others — I think this is a strategy now leading into Sept. 30, and of course the end of the voting period … I think you'll see others come up."

Coady said that she herself endorses Bennett as the ideal candidate for Liberal leadership.

Shawn Skinner, former Tory MHA, said the endorsement came as a bit of surprise to him.

"I recognize that they do have a history on the board [of Nalcor], but I think the deciding factor for Mr. MacDonald was the fact that she's really the only candidate who has openly supported Muskrat Falls," Skinner said.

"I think it helps for some who may be wondering whether or not she's been accepted by the Liberal party — I think it helps in that regard. And I think it also indicates we have a race. There's no doubt that this is going to be a race," he added.

Russell Wangersky, with the Telegram, said MacDonald's endorsement will have a big impact, mainly on people within the Liberal party.

"Dean MacDonald has had such a strong role in sort of the rejuvenation efforts of the party — with others. But it has had such a prominent role that, in order for Cathy Bennett to be accepted as a Liberal after being, essentially, a conservative appointee to a conservative dominated board at Nalcor … this is sort of a mark that this is the real cheese," Wangersky said.

"That's very valuable within the party. Outside the party, I think what you'll see is that this is part of a structured roll-out which essentially says the Liberal party can put together a cohesive, organized campaign that rolls things out in order."

Coady, Skinner and Wangersky were on the panel on this week's On Point with guest host Jonathan Crowe.