DRUMMONDVILLE – Parti Quebecois members will choose their next leader on Oct. 7, interim leader Sylvain Gaudreault announced Sunday.

Voting will take place by phone and Internet from Oct. 5 to 7, and the results will be announced in Quebec City after the last day of voting, said PQ president Raymond Archambault.

For financial reasons, the PQ has chosen an alternative voting method that will avoid a possible second round.

The nomination period officially begins Monday and will end on July 4 when candidates are nominated, coinciding with the start of the race.

Each candidate must have deposited $20,000 by September and collected 1,500 members’ signatures in seven regions and 45 districts.

The ceiling for each candidate’s expenses was set at $200,000 compared to $400,000 for the leadership race last year.

Archambault said the ceiling was lowered after the finding that only former leader Pierre Karl Péladeau had reached the limit.

Those who want to vote for the next PQ leader will have to join the party before Sept.7.

There will be two debates, probably in September. One will be in Montreal and another in a city that will be decided by draw later.

Four candidates have officially thrown their hats into the ring so far: Martine Ouellet, Alexandre Cloutier, Véronique Hivon and Jean-François Lisée.

Ouellet said she wants a referendum within the first mandate of a PQ government.

“I think all Quebecers want clear ideas. They want to know what they will be voting for,” she said.

Lisée said referendum talk can come later – that right now his focus is getting the Liberals out of power.

“The number of scandals they have per week - I mean, we can't keep up with them as an opposition. Slow down with the scandals. We can't keep up with every one of them,” he said.

Hivon said she is less concerned about the mechanics and timeline for a referendum, and is more focused on stirring up interest on sovereignty.

“I believe that it's very, very fundamental to be starting from the bases, and to talk again about the project - what it can represent for the people of Quebec, for their families, for the collectivity – before talking about mechanics and dates,” she said.

Meanwhile, Cloutier is promising to form eight committees looking at issues ranging from finances to healthcare in a future independent Quebec. The committees would be led by experts, MNAs and party members, he said.

“I'm going to table ideas for the project. It's nice to consult, but at the end of the day we have to make decisions,” he said.

The winner would replace Peladeau, who stepped down in early May for family reasons.