Potential Liberal leader Cathy Bennett has backed Tories
Businesswoman gave donations to PCs, supported key Muskrat Falls policy
St. John’s businesswoman Cathy Bennett may be pondering a run for the provincial Liberal leadership, but she has supported Tory causes in recent years.
While the Liberals were busy attacking the Muskrat Falls project in the legislature, Bennett was helping form a business group to lend public support to the hydro deal.
"Based on what I’ve learned and what I’ve read, I think this is a solid strategic project for the province," she told On Point with David Cochrane in October 2012.
But beyond words, there has been money.
Since 2004, Bennett and her companies have made nine political donations to the Progressive Conservatives for a total of $6,400.
In that same time frame, she has made just two donations to the Liberals totalling just $500.
In fact, PC insiders say that Bennett was recruited heavily to run for the Danny Williams team in the 2007 provincial election.
They even had a seat picked out — St. John's East — where incumbent MHA John Ottenheimer was retiring.
Bennett never ran. But from 2007 to 2012, she sat on the Nalcor Energy board of directors. It was an appointment made by former premier Williams.
Past associations drawing attention
Now, as Bennett ponders a move into politics, those past associations are drawing attention from Liberals.
It even prompted former Liberal cabinet minister John Efford to contact the CBC Feedback line.
"I have been around the Liberal Party since 1969," Efford said. "I have never seen Cathy Bennett at one function for anything to do with the Liberal Party whatsoever. It is quite obvious she is not a Liberal. We are looking for real Liberals to take over the future of the Liberal Party."
Another prominent businessperson, Dean MacDonald, faced a similar reaction when he flirted with seeking the top Liberal job.
MacDonald also had strong ties to Williams, and was absent from Liberal politics during Williams's time as premier.
His potential leadership bid was met with some skepticism within the Liberal Party.
That’s an obstacle that Bennett may now have to overcome as well.