I must say that Billy Diamond never ceases to amaze me. After refusing to talk to the press on more than one occasion he gave in and talked to L’actualité about the Crees. Cree insiders and most Cree know L’actualité. The popular French magazine published an erroneous story on how Crees had had to hire a huge public relations firm to run our United States campaign for the Crees during the international battle to save the Great Whale River from the clutches of Hydro-Quebec’s proposed dams. Pardon me, that’s one long run-on sentence for a poor benighted Cree who fought the good fight during that time. I, sure as Betsy, didn’t notice no P.R. flack telling me what to do or say. In the past L’actualite also said Crees were all weekend hunters.
Obvious catch phrases designed to excite the Quebec public into thinking that Crees were assimilated or somehow not fully Cree anymore it would seem. Doesn’t L’actualite even research how many Crees are in the bush and the length of time they are there? Of course these facts for the uniniated might be a little hard to find easily. Perhaps some kind soul from the Cree Trappers Association could send L’actualite some relevant information since they doesn’t seem to have a research staff where the Cree are concerned. L’actualites’ latest mistakes concerning Creeland can be read on page 5.
That’s what really amazed me about Billy. Why did he go to a magazine that on the surface seems to have a bias against Crees to be interviewed? Given that Billy’s a self-proclaimed expert on Cree/non-Cree relations wouldn’t he have known in what vein the interview would have been seen by both Crees and non-Crees?
It seems to many that the “benevolent tyrant of the North” (as he was called in one long ago news article) has declared war on the Cree leadership and the way they do things. It would also appear he is willing to go to the extreme to get his viewpoints out. Not out in the Cree world but in the non-Cree world. He calls the actions of the Crees pathetic when they rejected Quebec’s offer on the forestry deal. He also seems call the fight against Hydro-Quebec’s La Grande Complex a mistake. He said it was “an idiotic approach” for him to want to have all the trees grow in Eeyou Istchee. Personally I don’t think it’s necessarily an idiotic approach to start from that premise and work from there.
The one line he took sure to drum up any type of support is the ever-popular sport of white consultant and lawyer bashing. Nice way to trash the teams that he used and assembled himself in many cases. I know after this I would consider it suicide to work with Billy. After all as they say with friends like this….
One would wonder, why? No one, least of all myself, feels that Billy doesn’t have the right to speak about what he wants. Freedom of speech is one of the greatest things there is. I also enjoy the feeling of controversy when the boat is rocked like this. Sometimes we get too complacent and need to be shaken awake every now and again. Of course, as a journalist, I enjoy seeing the full story. The full story wasn’t there and bits and pieces were missing. I guess space considerations in L’actualite might have been to blame. As an editor you have to determine what goes in and what just goes. A trust in Mr. Diamond by reporter Luc Chartrand could have led to not verifying the details. It’s a hard job either way but it always leaves questions.
I have a few questions myself. Can there trust afterwards between Billy and the Cree leadership when he trashes them two years after working with them? Is he looking for another job of some sort? Is he going back into politics? Will it be Cree politics or a federal or provincial platform? If not Cree politics, then what party will Billy affiliate himself with? What can we expect from Billy’s comeback trail in the future?
I trust that in future interviews all will become clear.