A University of Saskatchewan professor says the recent lawsuit filed against the partners of a multi-million dollar economic collaboration agreement between two uranium companies and the northern community of Pinehouse should not be viewed as a negative thing.

In fact, Ken Coates, who teaches at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, says the collaboration deal and opposition to it can been seen as a positive development in terms of northern Aboriginal communities and the corporate sector following a politically healthy process of engagement and debate.

He adds only time will tell how the lawsuit plays out but it is similar to the types of democratic debates that go on in non-Aboriginal communities when elected officials make key economic decisions.

Coates also says such economic collaboration agreements need not necessarily be viewed with suspicion as companies, such as Areva and Cameco, are only following recent court decisions in terms of their flow to communities like Pinehouse.

Furthermore, he says a refusal to disclose specific financial details by the partners of the agreement, as is alleged in the lawsuit, is not uncommon, as some confidentiality usually exists in similar agreements to protect the business interests of the signatories.

The collaboration agreement between Pinehouse, Areva and Cameco is worth approximately $200 million over 11 years in business development, jobs and community investment and engagement.