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Updated: Fri, 01 Nov 2013 20:10:17 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Stephen Harper expected to address Senate scandal in speech



A cameraman adjusts his camera in the main hall at the Conservative convention in Calgary Thursday. Party members and MPs are gathering for the convention, which includes a keynote address by Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Friday. Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press

A cameraman adjusts his camera in the main hall at the Conservative convention in Calgary Thursday. Party members and MPs are gathering for the convention, which includes a keynote address by Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Friday. Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to mention the Senate expenses scandal in his speech to Conservative members Friday night, but his main focus will be on his favourite issue, the economy, and specifically a tentative trade deal with the European Union.

The speech is expected to focus on the government's achievements and issues the party hopes will energize the party faithful, whose confidence in the Conservatives seems unshaken despite months of focus on a Senate expenses scandal.

The party expects an audience of 3,000 for the speech, which is set for 8 p.m. ET.

CBCNews.ca will carry Harper's speech live as part of our livestreaming CBC News Network special coverage, starting at 7 p.m. ET.

Harper will hit on three themes:

- Looking back at what the party has accomplished since the 2011 election.

- Looking ahead at the plan laid out in the throne speech.

- Reiterating his commitment to conservative principles.

The main subjects of his speech will be the economy, including the tentative deal with the European Union, and public safety, with a focus on crime and security.

A poll released Friday morning suggests Canadians are now judging Harper more on his handling of the Senate controversy than on how he handles the economy.

Conservative officials hope the speech will fire up party members and put them in a celebratory mood when they are reminded of the measures called for by conservatives that Harper has been able to deliver.

Harper arrived at the BMO Centre in Calgary just before 1 p.m. ET Friday to see the venue ahead of the speech.

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