Rising political stars to watch in 2012

Canada's Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment Michelle Rempel speaks during Question Period …There were 108 new MPs elected to the House of Commons in the May election.

While many have relegated themselves to the back benches, several have stood out.

Here are the rookie MPs that have impressed in 2011, and the ones to watch in 2012:

Chris Alexander (CON)

The Tory member of parliament of Ajax-Pickering may be a new politician but he's no stranger to politics.

The 43 year old was Canada's ambassador to Afghanistan, and then a UN special representative to the war-torn country, at the peak of turmoil from 2003 to 2009.

"He is young, telegenic, articulate, worldly, bilingual and holds a seat in southern Ontario — the region where Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Tories must solidify their electoral gains," PostMedia's Mark Kennedy wrote of Alexander who is currently the parliamentary secretary to defence minister Peter MacKay.

"At this stage in his successful shift to politics, it's hard not to ask the obvious question: Is he the future face of the Conservative party? Perhaps even a contender to someday be the Tory leader?"

Michelle Rempel (CON)

At age 31, Michelle Rempel has turned heads in Ottawa and not just because of her blond hair and prominent dimples.

"In a Commons full of ministers robotically reading answers from their iPads because they're afraid to go off script, Ms. Rempel simply tossed away her talking points and confidently took on her opposition opponents," the Globe and Mail's Jane Taber recently wrote about the Calgary area MP.

"She is among a new breed of Tory women...Ms. Rempel stands out."

Rempel currently serves as the parliamentary secretary to environment minister Peter Kent.

Ted Hsu (LIB)

Rookie Liberal MPs were a scarce commodity in Ottawa after the May 2 election - Ted Hsu was one of only two.

The MP for Kingston and the Islands was a physicist, a Morgan Stanley financial manager, and — prior to his entry into politics — held the position of Executive Director of SWITCH, a Kingston not-for-profit sustainable energy association.

As the Liberal critic for Science & Technology, and for the Federal Economic Development Agency of both Southern and Northern Ontario, Hsu has impressed his fellow parliamentarians.

The 47 year old was first runner up for Rookie of the Year at the 5th annual Parliamentarians of the Year awards, as voted on by his peers.

Elizabeth May (Green)

As a Member of Parliament, Elizabeth May is just one of 308 individuals - a diminutive voice equal to just 0.3 per cent of all the members in the lower chamber.

May has been masterful in amplifying her voice in Ottawa and has become a 'go to' person  for the media gallery on issues ranging from Kyoto to the mission in Libya.

Given her lot in Parliament, the Green Party leader deserves credit for the amount of publicity she's garnered during her first 7 months in the House.

It will be interesting to see if her media popularity translates to a bump in the polls in 2012.

Alexandre Boulerice (NDP)

The Globe and Mail describes the former CUPE spokesperson as one of the NDP's "best attack dogs" in the House of Commons - the John Baird of the left, if you will.

Boulerice has admirably picked up the slack for the NDP after a number of the party's strongest performers had to give up their positions as critics to run in the leadership race

As a result of his strong performance, Boulerice was the NDP caucus' pick for favourite "up and comer" according to an Angus Reid/Hill Times All Politics poll.