From a Q&A in Saturday's National Post:
Q How long do you feel Canada should maintain its troops in Afghanistan?
M.I. I supported the extension of the Afghanistan mission originally put forward by the Liberal government to February, 2009. At the time of the vote of in the House of Commons on this issue, I made it clear that my support of the extension was conditional on the Harper government maintaining the original balance of the mission envisioned by the Liberal government of the day: providing humanitarian aid, ensuring human security and facilitating reconstruction. This has to remain a balanced mission. We can and should be contributing more to the reconstruction and humanitarian efforts to get the country back on its feet.
I do not support an open-ended mission. By 2009, Canada will have been in Afghanistan for seven years and I believe we should then hand the torch over to our NATO partners and to the increasingly able Afghan security forces. We must plan for that transition. We can return home with our heads held high, confident we have fulfilled our moral promise to the Afghan people, as well as our commitment to the democratically-elected Afghan government and to our international allies.
This seems to be a policy shift on Iggy's part. Or at least, I recall him talking about extending the mission past its 2009 expiry date on one or two occasions. If so, it is a most welcome change in views.
Of course, the only problem is that the Afghan security forces are not becoming "increasingly able". Just as in Iraq, if NATO forces leave Afghanistan these security forces will fold like a cheap suitcase. That won't change by 2009, or 2019. So the "fulfilling moral promises" stuff is nonsense, unless you want Canadian troops in the country forever.