Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
I agree that it's not representative of Canada per se - as I noted in a comment there is certainly biologically based research coming out of Canada - not to mention the Canadian Consensus Criteria (lol) - but I think when the CIHR handed the first grant application - which was obviously physiologically based - to a someone who believes a psychological approach to ME/CFS comes first and foremost - I think it potentially says a lot about how the CIHR views this disease. They knew the person's background, though.In reply to: "Will Canada still deny that ME/CFS is a real disease..." and many of the other down on Canada sentiments.
I don't think you can say that Canada denies ME/CFS is a real disease. What happened is admittedly pretty bad, but, there are a lot of other things to consider that have not been mentioned here or in the main article. First, grant review committees are often recruited from all over the world. I was asked to review a grant for a Dutch competition while living in Germany (and being Canadian). The CIHR doesn't really have an opinion of its own per se, they need to rely on the 'experts'. Here they've obviously ended up with one with a clear stance. However, the strong opinion in the rejection letter could be anyone from anywhere, though of course it does reflect on the image of the CIHR. Second, other than the bit of details one could get from the reviewers comments the grant application itself were never shown or discussed. If it was extremely poorly prepared/designed they may have been looking for any argument at all to reject it. Money is tight and there would likely be criticism of the CIHR if they funded a project that in the end was useless (think about PACE). Again, it's hard to say without having seen the grant. Third, there is often a slight misalignment between what is the domain of the CIHR and another funding body (NSERC). Hard core supporters of 'health-related' research may have felt, rightly or wrongly, that biomarker work belongs more under the rubric of NSERC. But it's kind of hard to say given that we don't really know what was in the grant application.
I'm not saying I agree with the rejection, and certainly not with the way it was handled, but I think getting down on the country is unfair.
Hopefully there are other people in the CIHR who don't believe this went down very well. It is such a weird opinion that it may be an anomaly. How Canada intends to collaborate with the U.S. while having this kind of slant is beyond me, for instance - the U.S. is just not interested in this train of thought; the fact that they want to do that could indicate that the grant was drafted by people who are not behind this reviewer.
Canada is a big country and hopefully other voices will prevail.