Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting that the hon. member would say that this is about equality and fairness. I would like to remind him that the government moved closure on this bill at second reading, at report stage and now at third reading. It limited committee study to three and a half days. Many people were not allowed to voice concerns about this bill. It seems to me that is not in the spirit of the bill, if it is about fairness.
The member made the point that the issue of economic dependency would be addressed sometime down the road and that this particular bill is addressing something else.
We have often asked if the requirement for a conjugal relationship is the criterion for receiving benefits under this bill. These are benefits which have previously been given to married couples and families. Now two people of the same gender in a conjugal relationship will have access to these benefits. I would like to ask a question of the member opposite, who I know is a member of cabinet and an esteemed member of the Liberal Party. I asked the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism, who spoke before him, if, in order to fulfil the requirements of a conjugal relationship, people would be required to have a physical or sexual relationship to qualify under Bill C-23. She said no, not necessarily. When the justice minister announced the bill, she said that benefits and obligations to individuals in other relationships, such as economic and emotional interdependence, were not included in the bill.
It seems on the one hand that we have the justice minister saying if it is economic dependency, it is not included. On the other hand, when I asked the secretary of state exactly “Would two people who do not have a physical relationship qualify under Bill C-23, yes or no?”, her answer was, if they fulfilled the other requirements of a conjugal relationship, yes. I hear conflicting positions.
It seems to me, if it is not about economic dependency and it is about conjugality, are we not saying that we are extending benefits to people based on private physical intimacies about which a lot of people have concerns?