CALGARY — An Alberta energy services company says its management accepts full responsibility for a decal the business distributed bearing its logo beneath a sexually suggestive cartoon appearing to depict 17-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.
"This does not reflect the values of this company or our employees, and we deeply regret the pain we may have caused," X-Site Energy Services said in a statement on its website Monday.
The sticker had a black-and-white drawing of a female figure's bare back with hands pulling on her braided pigtails. The name "Greta" was written below. The company's logo was under the drawing.
The image unleashed a torrent of outrage after it began circulating online Wednesday. It prompted condemnations from Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, provincial cabinet ministers and members of the House of Commons.
"We are taking action to condemn this image and its publication and are committed to recovering and destroying the decals we distributed," X-Site's statement read.
"Management accepts full responsibility and, effective immediately, has made organizational changes to reflect this."
A call to Doug Sparrow, who was listed as X-Site's general manager last week, went straight to voice mail and he did not immediately respond to a message seeking further clarification. X-Site's 24-hour dispatch number was directed to Sparrow's voice mail. An email to Sparrow was not immediately returned.
In August 2016, a tattoo artist in Argentina posted on his Instagram feed an identical drawing to the one used in the decal. German Canalla's drawing didn't have the word "Greta" written on it.
He said he didn't give permission for his drawing to be used and he's angry.
"Most of my work is about erotic situations, sex and (bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism)," Canalla wrote in an email Monday.
"My primal idea is consent, respect and above all, love. What they did is archaic, retrograde and misogynist. I'm ashamed of what they did with my work."
Michelle Narang of Rocky Mountain House, Alta., said last week that a friend sent her a picture of the decal and told her they were being handed out at job sites.
She said the image was so jarring and hurtful that she cried.
Narang said she called Sparrow on Wednesday and he told her he was aware of the stickers being distributed and that he stood by them. Narang said Sparrow told her: "She is not a child. She is 17."
Sparrow later denied responsibility in an interview with Calgary radio station 660 News.
"It's not from X-Site or any employee. Someone has done this. That's all I know," he told the radio station.
X-Site's statement does not make clear who made the decals, whose decision it was to hand them out and what the "organizational changes" entail.
It adds that "other parties" have been making more images with X-Site's logo, but did not elaborate.
"These have nothing to do with our company, and we ask for everyone's help in taking them and the original decal out of circulation and hope people will stop republishing these images."
X-Site said it is discussing a code of conduct with its employees and that it will hold sessions on respect in the workplace with all staff.
"We have let our employees, our families and our customers down with this careless action. But just as we are committed to help reduce our industry's environmental footprint, we are committed to learn from and correct our mistake," it said.
"We will do better."
The RCMP reviewed the decals, but determined that, while "distasteful," they did "not meet the elements of child pornography."
Thunberg has made headlines for her passionate pleas to world leaders to take tougher action on cutting greenhouse gas emissions and for inspiring large climate marches around the world.
"They are starting to get more and more desperate," she said Saturday of her critics on Twitter. "This shows that we're winning."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2020
Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press