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Quebec checking campus visit by PQ minister

Quebec checking campus visit by PQ minister Quebec Minister Bernard Drainville is pictured February 7, 2014 in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Clement Allard

MONTREAL - Quebec's chief electoral officer is looking into at least one of the visits made by a Parti Quebecois cabinet minister to colleges and universities on advance polling days.

Bernard Drainville tweeted a number of recent selfies, including one that showed him sitting at a table at the Universite de Sherbrooke last Friday talking to a student.

The minister responsible for drafting the controversial values charter can be seen holding what appears to be PQ election pamphlets.

This is the first year that students at junior colleges and universities have been allowed to vote on campus. The eligible students vote for candidates in the ridings where they have their permanent address.

Article 352 of the Quebec Elections act states that "no person may, on the premises of a polling station, use any sign to indicate his political affiliation or support for or opposition to a party or candidate, or engage in any other form of partisan publicity."

It also says "the building in which the polling station is located — and any neighbouring place where the sign or partisan publicity may be seen or heard by the electors are considered to be the premises of the polling station."

Stephanie Isabel, a spokeswoman for the chief electoral officer, said an investigation is underway.

"We are aware that Mr. Drainville spoke to students in a teaching establishment," she said Wednesday. "We'll do some checking to see how the situation unfolded."

PQ leader Pauline Marois defended her minister.

"Mr. Drainville did that in good faith," she told reporters in Montreal.

But she also claimed the chief electoral officer has said the law is not very clear.

"So, if he wants us to clarify this point we will do that when we will (again) be at the head of the government," Marois said.

Isabel said one polling station has been set up in every institution where there are 300 eligible voters and that the students need to be enrolled in the institution.

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