* This post is a slightly modified version of a comment I left at Dr. Dawg's, in the thread of his post deploring the craven Liberal capitulation before Harper's new immigration bill, C-50. I thought my own readership might enjoy reading it (given how much I enjoyed writing it!).
Just an historical note: Clifford Sifton was Wilfrid Laurier's Minister of the Interior and is famous for having spurred the waves of European immigration that populated the Canadian West in the early 1900's.
Suspicion of "Conservative" motives concerning Bill C-50 began with its introduction. The responsible minister, Diane Finley, must take credit for at least some of this suspicion, as her public justifications for the bill have underlined the desirability of reducing the immigration caseload (i.e. reducing immigration) and of giving the minister the unilateral power to deploy quotas and other preferential criteria in the selection process. Overall, the thrust of the bill seems designed to make immigration more functional in the purely econometric sense.
Frankly, such a move would be at least somewhat consistent with traditional Canadian immigration policy, which, at least since the days of Clifford Sifton's "hardy peasants in sheepskin coats", has treated immigration as an economic question, not a humanitarian one (which has conventionally been exclusively the province of our refugee policy).
Of course, slipping backwards into an avowedly racist immigration policy would likely be welcomed by some in the CPC, but I think the bill is motivated by considerations that are more politically selfish than they are racist. I would be willing to wager that the CPC is trying to give itself enough flexibility to enhance the inflow of emigrant groups from the former Soviet Block/Warsaw Pact while strangling or drastically reducing emigration from the more traditional sources.
"Conservative" operatives are clearly eager to destroy what they see as the Liberal Party's grip on the "immigrant vote" (an allegiance which is often sustained through two or more generations). Of course, the CPC could simply attempt to replace the LPC in the hearts of voters whom the Liberals have already cultivated, but importing a new, large and powerful immigrant class composed of people who are already responsive to the CPC's world-view would be a brilliant bit of lateral thinking (and the CPC is chock-full of strategically-oriented policy wonks, Stephen Harper not least among them).
Among the world's impoverished diaspora, Central and Eastern Europeans are the most naturally libertarian: they distrust all collectivities. Yes, Africans, Caribbeans, Chinese, and Arabs may be, as a rule, deeply distrustful of the state because of nightmarish experiences with state-sponsored violence and corruption, but their identities are often driven by other collective ties (e.g. of clan, tribe, ethnicity, or large extended family); this fact means that they are often willing and eager to offer allegiance to the state when it shows itself to be benign and that they do not always have the Randian individualist passion that the CPC values.
Central and Eastern Europeans, though, distrust all communities; communism destroyed not just faith in the state and its institutions but faith in the family and friendship also (in fact, it largely destroyed the very experience of family and friendship). The motto by which life is lived by Ukrainians, Romanians, Poles and Bulgarians is "Trust No One". My own experience with recently-arrived Central and Eastern Europeans (which is fairly extensive, as the University of Ottawa boasts a huge body of international students) suggests that they have a burning entrepreneurial drive, an aggressive individualism and an almost desperate need to achieve (on every plane--financial, intellectual, and cultural). Their vehement anti-socialism often shows itself as an enthusiastic pro-Americanism which, while not quite as uncritical as Harper's, is much closer to it than the Canadian average.
Ultimately, the Mitteleuropean diaspora represents an ideal target group for the CPC, and Harper would be insane not to do everything he could to enhance its currently modest Canadian presence. It would not change the electoral dynamics in the short term, but its long-term effect could be to institutionalise those CPC values which are yet far from being in the Canadian mainstream.