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Pressman Brian Muldoon stacks Canada Premium Bonds as they come off the presses at the Canada Bank Note Company in Ottawa.Tom Hanson

What could possibly be holding the federal government back from killing Canada Savings Bonds? Is it sentimentality over a 70-year-old program that has turned utterly irrelevant? Fear of alienating people who won't adapt to the better options now available? Whatever the reason, it's insufficient. CSBs today are a waste of time.

This rant was prompted by the latest round of speculation about the future of CSBs, which have seen assets decline to about $6-billion last year from $55-billion in 1987. An outside review has found the program costs $58-million a year to run and serves no economic purpose. Yet the government for some reason can't pull the plug. Instead, the finance minister is inviting people to comment on CSBs as part of the government's pre-budget consultations. Here's a comment: Stick a fork in CSBs. The returns they offer are low even by today's standards and equally safe options are widely available.

Here's a link to a 2004 story I wrote about the government clinging to Canada Savings Bonds. Twelve years later, it's time to let go.

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Ask Rob
The question: "I'm new to direct investing. I purchased Sun Life Financial stock, only to have it fall significantly in recent months. At what point should a person determine that it's time to sell with a loss rather than ride it out?"

My reply: What, you're ready to give up on Sun Life already? Have there been any developments that will limit profits going forward or otherwise impair the company's business? Any threats to its dividend? Any new competitors set to make it irrelevant? If not, then I can't see why you'd want to sell after owning for what seems to be a short period of time. Give it three to five years.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Questions and answers are edited for length.

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