Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has wowed the world with progressive policies and smouldering good looks since entering office in November 2015. Fans will do anything to take a selfie with him but if he's unavailable, it seems, a cardboard cut-out will suffice.

Lifesize cardboard cut-outs of Trudeau have popped up at Canada Day events around the US in recent months, with admirers queuing up to take snaps with the charismatic leader of the Liberal Party. However, leaked emails reveal that – in a rather curious move – Canadian consulates and embassies have now been ordered to pack-up their Trudeau effigies.

"We are aware of instances where our missions in the United States had decided to purchase and use these cut-outs," Michael O'Shaughnessy, spokesman for the Canadian government's diplomatic branch Global Affairs Canada, said in an email to foreign outposts.

"The missions have been asked to no longer use these for their events," he added, after noting that the cut-outs had attracted a lot of attention at events in Texas and Washington.

The cardboard icons can be bought from a range of Amazon vendors for as little as $49 (£39) and it appears that a number of embassies had rushed to place orders, according to CBS who have seen the leaked communications.

They report that a Canadian embassy in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania paid $147.79 for a life size fake-Trudeau including shipping and packaging. Embassy staffers said at the time that the purchases would generate "some serious selfie action".

Others objected that the spectacle did not "seem very prime ministerial". But the objection was overruled after someone pointed out that the US embassy in Ottawa had once housed a Barack Obama cardboard cut-out.

The Canadian government's communications arms did not respond to questions from CBC News regarding the number, cost and location of Trudeau cut-outs or why they have banned their use.

The Canadian Conservative opposition, who unearthed the emails using freedom of information laws, blasted the cut-outs as little more than a vanity project. Spokesman John Brassard said: "[The] Canadian brand is much more than the prime minister."

"A life-size, two-dimensional cut-out is probably a perfect metaphor for everything that Justin Trudeau represents. You've got the shallow facade, and yet there's very little in the way of depth or substance there."

It is not known whether the previous Conservative administration ever employed Stephen Harper cut-outs at official functions. They drew criticism for a series of taxpayer funded films called 24/7 that chronicled Harper talking about his itinerary in a manner some critics labelled as self indulgent.