Get set for a tidal wave of punditry as the NDP leadership convention sets up shop at noon today at the Metro Toronto Convention Center.
The unknowable is about to unfold and all is fateful and full of confusion as everyone seeks to fathom possible strategic alliances and the criss-crossing of interests.
Any delegate walking into the convention hall today who hasn't signed up to one of the camps yet (wouldn't want to be in their shoes) better be ready for swarming, as possees of persuaders are on the chase.
Not entirely socialist of them, but the party has set the observer's price at $1000 - that's because capacity is only 5000 and over 3000 members have registered, so don't just drop in.
Here's how things will go down: Friday is entirely speechifying and, I might add, deafening cheerleading, as contenders present their best selves one by one, from 1:30 until 4:30.
Then, at 5 pm, voting starts for those making choices at convention or at home online. Don't get muddled; the deadline for advance mail-in ranked balloting ended on Thursday and online advance ranked voting expired as of 9am Friday.
About 45,000 have already cast ballots and about 131,000 total are eligible. Be warned, also, that those voting in real time don't get a ranked ballot - only one choice per round.
The first (or, though its not likely, the last) big moment occurs at 10am Saturday with the announcing of results. If there's no 50% winner, welcome to round two. The hopeful with the lowest vote drops off the roster and so on with each round until, hurrah, there's a new social democratic leader of the opposition.
While I'm trying to decide what goes into my knapsack to survive a weekend full of earnest entreaties and much waving of signs, here's some of what I'm asking myself.
1) Is there a ghost of a chance the whole thing will go shazam at round one with a Thomas Mulcair win?
Some are speculating that if he doesn't grab a big number right off, he could get into trouble because it's not clear where his second choice backers will come from. It's said there's a raft of Nathan Cullen supporters holding another vote in their pocket for the Quebec guy, but there's also the fact that some Cullen types are merely present to push a strategic other-party pact and might just go on strike after round one.
2) Will early front-runner Brian Topp go into the ether early? And what will be the tangible effect of Ed Broadbent's out-of-character tirade against Mulcair's temperment? Since the party elder's a Brian Topp man, could this mean Topp supporters will shun Mulcair on subsequent rounds? And what about the animosity between popular Topp backer Libby Davies and Mulcair over mideast stuff; does this, too, signal that some Topp folks have a propensity towards a Mulcair gang-up?
3) What if both Paul Dewar and Brian Topp lose on early ballots and there's an anti-Mulcair backlash - does Peggy Nash scoop it all up because the only other option is Nathan Cullen and his interparty fraternizing?
4) Will something totally wacky happen because so many party members still aren't sure where they stand, and are waiting to be swept up in the grandness and the fury of it all - and because they're clearer about who they think will totally wreck the party than who they think capable of moving into 24 Sussex?
Let the games begin.