11/01/2013 13:31 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 10:52 EST

Stephen Harper expected to address Senate scandal in speech

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

The party expects 3,000 delegates at the speech set for 8 p.m. ET.

CBC News will carry Harper's speech live.

Harper will hit on three themes:

- Looking back at what the party has accomplished.

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

- Reiterating his commitment to conservative principles.

He's expected to hit on issues that will energize the party faithful, whose confidence in the Conservatives seems unshaken despite months of focus on a Senate expenses scandal.

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.

The main subjects of Harper's speech will be the economy, including the tentative deal with the EU, as well as public safety, with a focus on crime and security.

Harper officials hope the speech will fire up party members and put them in a celebratory mood when they are reminded of measures they wanted and that he has brought about.

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