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Conservative leadership candidates take part in a debate in Edmonton, on May 11.Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

The federal Conservatives will announce the winner of their months-long leadership vote on Saturday, after a debate about how to proceed in light of the Queen’s death.

The Conservatives said Friday that the program for the event in Ottawa would be revised to reflect the passing of Queen Elizabeth. The party issued a statement saying its leadership election organizing committee was considering an “appropriate, respectful way” to announce the results and would respect all protocols on the death of the sovereign, which are set by the federal government.

Spokesperson Yaroslav Baran said in an interview that the lineup of speakers will remain fixed, but that there will be a more solemn tone with an acknowledgment of the passing of the Queen, no confetti and black being worn by participants in the proceeding.

Ahead of the results of the race being announced, speakers at the proceeding are to include former cabinet minister Peter MacKay, also a co-founder of the party, party president Robert Batherson, interim leader Candice Bergen and former leader Erin O’Toole, participating by a video address.

There are five candidates in the race: Ontario MPs Scott Aitchison, Leslyn Lewis and Pierre Poilievre, former Quebec premier Jean Charest and Roman Baber, a former Progressive Conservative member of the provincial legislature. Patrick Brown, the mayor of the Toronto-area municipality of Brampton, was disqualified from the race over allegations by the party of financial irregularities.

Mr. Poilievre, a cabinet minister under former prime minister Stephen Harper and, more recently, the party’s finance critic, is considered the frontrunner in the race, which was launched when the Conservative caucus voted out Erin O’Toole.

The Poilievre campaign said in June that they had signed up about 312,000 members. In the 2020 leadership race, all four candidates signed up more than 269,000 people in total.

The MP for the Ottawa-area riding of Carleton has run a combative campaign, promising to make Canada “the freest nation on earth,” fire the Governor of the Bank of Canada as part of an effort to reduce inflation, and fire “gatekeepers” whom his campaign web site describes as the “consulting class,” politicians, bureaucrats or agencies that “create roadblocks for progress and charge a hefty fee for anyone who would want to build anything.”

Five policy questions Conservative Party leadership front-runner Pierre Poilievre hasn’t answered

He has been critical of Mr. Charest, suggesting the Quebecker is not a genuine Conservative, in part, because Mr. Charest, as premier of Quebec, was leader of the province’s Liberal party.

In response, Mr. Charest has cited decades of experience in politics that include serving as a federal cabinet minister under Progressive Conservative cabinet ministers Brian Mulroney and Kim Campbell, as well as his nine years as premier of Quebec.

Mr. Charest’s camp said they continued to have hope of defying expectations.

“We are very proud of the turnout we have seen from our supporters. Nearly 100 per cent of our membership sales have cast their ballot in support of Jean,” Chris Rougier, Mr. Charest’s campaign manager, said in a statement.

“We knew we were up against a movement that had been building towards this moment long before Jean entered the race. We are feeling cautiously optimistic but agree, no matter the outcome, we need to move forward as a united Conservative Party to bring an end to Trudeau’s politics of division.”

Mr. Poilievre’s campaign declined to comment on Friday about their expectations.

Party membership has grown from about 160,000 when the race began to 678,702. A total of 417,987 ballots have been accepted and are being processed. The election is being conducted through a single-ballot preferential vote in which party members rank their choices, as well as a points system that gives electoral districts equal weight.

As the Tuesday voting deadline arrived, the party had received 437,854 ballots, but about 3 per cent were rejected due to issues such as missing ID.

The House of Commons is set to sit on Sept. 19 after its summer break.

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