"He said Canada can play a "leadership role" to spark talks aimed at building an accountable government, a justice system and legitimate elections in Afghanistan."Sure, right. While impartial mediators can play a role, and even partial ones can help, it is not clear how a country that had been a combatant but then pulled out would be seen as a significant voice. The reality is that influence comes with commitment. No commitment, not much influence.
There are good arguments to be made for Canada not to be in Afghanistan, but Layton seems to like making bad ones. He argues that Harper is lying or naive about keeping trainers in the classrooms and behind the wire, but that just means that Layton has not been paying attention to the past ten years of caveats and other restrictions. Countries can and do restrict their troops from combat all the time, and this has not been such a secret in Afghanistan. Perhaps I should send him the Steve and Dave paper (draft, email me for the final version coming out of ISQ in 2012).
I am not a big fan of the Harper approach, having called him a weenie, but Layton is simply bad at being a pacifist. That is, he makes lousy arguments that weaken the position.