Calling Billy Diamond. L’Actualité reporter Luc Chartrand wants to speak with you.
Chartrand is the journalist who spent hours interviewing Billy Diamond for a nine-page cover story in L’Actualité that slammed the Cree decision last year to go ahead with an injunction in the forestry court case.
Now it turns out Diamond clearly supported that decision himself at a July 1999 chiefs’ meeting.
The news left Chartrand stunned. “Oh… Mr. Diamond is in contradiction with himself, according to what you are saying. I am quite surprised to learn that,” he said.
“It’s extraordinary for me to learn that he said exactly the opposite of what he said to me. It contradicts what Billy Diamond said to me in two interviews, one of three hours, and also on the phone several times,” he said. “I am curious to see what he will say.”
L’Actualité publisher Jean Paré, for his part, didn’t want to discuss the story. He grew angry when questioned about it and told a reporter to write a letter to the editor.
Chartrand said he did his best to verify Diamond’s many allegations, but acknowledged that most of his “six or seven” sources spoke off the record. “I took a lot of time to verify everything I could verify. It’s verified to my satisfaction,” he said.
He said he checked some of Diamond’s allegations with Cree negotiator Romeo Saganash, but didn’t believe Saganash was credible. “The figures he gave were never reliable,” said Chartrand. In fact, Saganash was present at the 1999 meeting at which Diamond and all the other Cree leaders agreed to press on with the forestry lawsuit.
Chartrand also said he did not verify with anyone else Diamond’s allegation that Quebec was still open to further negotiations and possible concessions on forestry. In fact, Quebec was not open to further concessions at all, according to a letter Diamond himself wrote in July 1999.
For Chartrand, it was the last article of his 10-year career at L’Actualité. He has left to write a book, then is off to CBC TV.