Aquilini sold land to help create conservation reserves in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

Aquilini sold land to help create conservation reserves in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

Protest growing against Campbell

Luigi Aquilini among others given Order of B.C.

A Maple Ridge woman has started an online petition stating that former premier Gordon Campbell is ineligible to receive the 2011 Order of B.C.

Many agree with Cheryl Baron, as she’s collected 3,785 names since setting up the petition Sunday and has upped her goal of getting 5,000 signatures to 25,000.

Baron, a NDP member, says Campbell is ineligible for the nomination, let alone winning the award, because he was still an MLA on March 10, the date nominations closed for the Order of B.C.

Campbell didn’t step down until March 14.

“I’m horrified at the flaunting of the rules, and that’s what set me off,” she said Tuesday.

“It has to be said. There are too many things that are happening that are not normal in this province.

“Everybody has to live by the same rules. Otherwise, we’ll have chaos.”

Given the state of the world, “you can’t let it go. Even if you lose, you can’t let it go. You’ve got to say something.”

Baron also helps run the “Gordon Campbell does not deserve the Order of B.C.” Facebook page, which has 3,783 likes.

Baron accepts that the government of the day looks more kindly on candidates from the their own party, but also considers other names.

“But this list is ridiculous.”

The Order of B.C. is given to British Columbians or former long-term residents who have demonstrated outstanding achievement, excellence or distinction in any field. One exception is that nominees must not be a currently elected person with federal, provincial or municipal governments.

Baron is confident she’ll reach 25,000 names. That will be a clear message from across B.C. that rules are rules for everybody. “And they can’t be changed for different people in the community.”

She wants the advisory committee to rescind the award, and if it doesn’t, she’ll organize a rally at the legislature on Oct. 4 – when the awards will be presented.

That would a shame, however, because that would overshadow the 13 other nominees, she added.

Another recipient that day will be Luigi Aquilini, of the Aquilini Investment Group, which dominates the berry business in Pitt Meadows.

According to the biographies from the Honours and Awards Secretariat, Aquilini is a “quintessential B.C. success story,” after arriving from Italy in the mid-1950s.

After starting in construction, he built Aquilini Investment Group, which now owns the Vancouver Canucks.

Seven years ago, the company sold the 105-hectare Codd Wetlands in north Pitt Meadows, into public ownership, donating $500,000 to the cause. The area is now known as the Codd Wetland-Aquilini Conservation Reserve.

The company also reduced the price of the nearby Blaney Bog property, appraised at $4 million, by $400,000. That’s now known as Blaney Bog Regional Reserve.

Along with his three children and 14 grandchildren, Aquilini has  supported causes related to children such as B.C. Children’s Hospital, juvenile diabetes research and the Canucks for Kids Fund, and the Canucks Autism Network.

The Golden Eagle Group, part of the Aquilini Investment Group, owns close to 5,000 acres of farmland in Pitt Meadows.

Members of the Aquilini family – Francesco, Elisa, Paulo and Roberto – along with related companies, still face Fisheries Act and Water Act charges in Port Coquitlam provincial court in connection with the installation of a water intake pipe into the North Alouette River in 2009.

A trial date has been set for Oct. 15, 2012.